Every year the Federal Government (HUD) asks local jurisdictions to do a point in time homeless count. We physically go out and count every homeless person on the street and in shelters. Here are the results for 2016:
Public perception has been that homelessness has gone up, these numbers confirm it. Chronic homelessness most directly affects the public’s perception of homelessness. The chronically homeless are often those living in encampments and in their vehicles, and thus are the most visible part of the homeless population.
There are 2 segments of the homeless population that decreased – Veterans and families.
Veteran homelessness has attracted national attention and a significant amount of resources in recent years. Millions of dollars have been invested in housing, vouchers, supportive services, and other resources. This heavy focus and investment has paid off. Veteran homelessness has decreased by 30% and we are on the verge of ending veteran homelessness!
Family homelessness has not received the national attention of the resources and funding that veteran homelessness has received. Family homelessness funding has actually decreased, yet the results have been equally impressive.
There are a few factors to which this success can be attributed. There has been a significant focus on what is being called “best practices” including a “housing first” approach and a coordinated (or centralized) entry system (CES).
Housing first places families directly into permanent housing and then surrounds them with supportive services. This allows homeless families to avoid shelters or transitional housing facilities. This model has been very successful with “low-barrier” families. These are families who we believe can sustain themselves by providing them with security deposits, first month’s rent, short-term subsidies, and supportive services.
Door of Hope has embraced a hybrid of the housing first model with a healthy balance of temporary and transitional housing. We are the lead agency for Pasadena’s rapid rehousing, which is a housing first initiative and has been extremely successful. We have also had huge successes with our temporary and transitional housing that provides comprehensive supportive services and accountability for families who have more barriers.
The coordinated entry system (CES) for families in Los Angeles County includes a new system of referrals for homeless families:
If a family is homeless and from Pasadena or the surrounding areas they are usually referred to Door of Hope. These families then either enter our Rapid Re-housing program and move directly into permanent housing, or enter our temporary housing program.
Door of Hope has a better than 95% success rate of families who have been placed in permanent housing maintaining their housing status. Door of Hope has also housed more families in the last few years then ever before in our 30 year history.
There is a direct correlation between the drop in family homelessness and the successes of Door of Hope and other agencies. Even without a nationwide focus of attention and resources, significant progress has been made and hundreds of families are now in a better place.
Our goal is to ensure there is a resource for every family in need of help. This is how we can end homelessness! This concept is referred to as a “functional zero.” It means that the resources available are equal to the need in the community. There are still hundreds of homeless families and children in Los Angeles County, but in Pasadena a complete end to family homelessness is possible.