The homeless crisis in Los Angeles County is a daunting one, with nearly 66,000 people sleeping homeless every night and more than 15,000 chronically homeless. The human and financial costs are immense, and the need for safe and affordable housing is greater than ever. However, research has shown that providing housing with supportive services, such as job training, case management, and healthcare, is the most effective way to reduce government costs for chronically homeless people by up to 75%.The Los Angeles Center for Housing and Homelessness is working to address the challenges of providing affordable housing solutions in one of the most expensive cities in the world. They are joined by donors, non-profit organizations, funders, and public and private sector institutions who are all focused on finding short- and long-term solutions to end the homelessness crisis.
The California Community Foundation is one such organization that provides grants to LA ENGAGE to help fund these efforts. In response to the city's staggering homeless crisis, Mayor Karen Bass created Inside Safe, a program that quickly moves people out of encampments and into housing. Outreach workers move from one camp to another and offer everyone in each target camp a hotel room. From there, the goal is to quickly move everyone from the hotel to permanent housing. Inside Safe has clear advantages over previous efforts to make a dent in L. A.'s homeless population.
Hotel rooms provide a safe place where residents can heal from street trauma, get their documents in order, and relearn to live indoors. And that means their social workers don't have to go all over town looking for them. However, while Inside Safe has managed to put a temporary ceiling on many of Los Angeles' most vulnerable residents, the program has obvious shortcomings. Now in its seventh month, Inside Safe has moved too few people from hotels to permanent housing, and the city is struggling to produce data on the impact of the program. Access to much needed services, such as mental and physical health care, has been lacking.
And renting hotel rooms is too expensive for Los Angeles to continue like this indefinitely. Despite these challenges, Inside Safe has been an important part of Mayor Bass' campaign for mayor and has the potential to serve as a model for other California cities. President Joe Biden's administration chose Los Angeles as one of six places to focus their homeless efforts. With the help of organizations like LA ENGAGE and The California Community Foundation, we can make a real difference in ending homelessness in Los Angeles County.