County approves collection of data on homeless

FILE PHOTO. A homeless camp photographed in April 2018 inside private property in the hills behind the 26300 block of Diamond Place. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Collecting data on the homeless with new tools approved Tuesday by county supervisors is a way of ensuring funding dollars are spent wisely, they say, and that funds a are allocated where needed.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion put forward by

Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda L. Solis, directing county agencies to report back on efforts to integrate new data-collection tools that will better identify and help the homeless.

“It is critical that Measure H dollars are used efficiently by allocating funding for services and housing where they will have greatest impact,” said Barger.

“This effort seeks to utilize innovative new data collection and analysis tools currently being developed by local research institutions.”

Said Solis: “As Los Angeles County continues to work with our cities, service providers, and other partners and stakeholders to combat the homelessness crisis, it is crucial that we get an accurate picture of who is suffering from homelessness, cataloguing why they have lost their homes and determining what they need to get back on their feet.

“By working with partners to create a more complete portrait of homelessness in Los Angeles County, we can better target resources and supportive services to those that need them most,” she said.

The motion directs county agencies to report back in 90 days.

In background papers prepared for county supervisors, Barger and Solis said two primary methods are currently available to policymakers and stakeholders who want to identify and account for the county’s population of individuals, families and youth experiencing homelessness.

The county’s Coordinated Entry System, including the housing and supportive services funded by Measure H, will be more effective, they said, if the county has a clear picture of where the money is going to go.

A clearer picture of the homeless, as promised with the gathering of new data, would reveal who is actually homeless and who — in the near future — will be homeless.

The two supervisors cited examples in which new data-collecting tools were being put to use, including the California Policy Lab at UCLA and Urban Labs at the University of Chicago.

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