Homelessness Continues to Significantly Increase in Southern California According to 2020 Homeless Counts

10% more persons were counted in 2020 when compared to 2019
which followed a previous 10% increase when
the 2019 count is compared to 2018

In 2020, 11 of the 13 Southern California Continuums of Care (CoCs) conducted a sheltered and unsheltered homeless count. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not require CoCs to complete an unsheltered count in even-number years.

The 11 CoCs counted 86,803 persons as homeless, which is an increase of 8,132 homeless persons or 10.3% when compared to the 78,671 persons counted as homeless in 2019 as noted in the map below.

Click here for a copy of the map.

Implications for Next Steps

There are more than 8,000 homeless persons participating in Southern California Project Roomkey initiatives. The goal of Project Roomkey is to quickly identify prioritized populations and immediately move them into non-congregate shelter placements, which largely includes hotels, motels, or self-contained trailers.

Prioritized populations include persons age 65+ and/or persons with underlying health conditions. They are particularly susceptible to becoming severely ill if exposed to the COVID-19 virus. If exposed, they may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe, or they may even die.

Thus, Southern California Project Roomkey initiatives are providing thousands of persons who are experiencing homelessness and are either recovering from the virus or have been exposed to the virus a place to convalesce and properly quarantine. The initiatives are also providing a safe place for isolation for persons experiencing homelessness and at high risk for health complications if they were to become infected.

The Southern California Continuum of Care (CoC) Alliance has compiled a draft list of several short-term and long-term actions to prevent as many Project Roomkey participants from returning to the streets homeless. Hundreds of persons have exited the Project Roomkey initiatives into temporary and/or permanent housing.

The draft list of short-term and long-term actions include:

A. Short-term actions

1. Lease or master lease multiple units within a hotel/motel currently used for Project Roomkey participants for 12 months or more;
2. Lease or master lease multiple units within a hotel/motel not currently used for Project Roomkey participants for 12 months or more;
3. Meet with property owners to identify available units;
4. Establish or use an existing flexible funding pool to pay for costs (e.g., property owner incentives) that other funding sources do not pay to overcome barriers to rapid rehousing;
5. Use Rapid Rehousing (RRH) funding as a pathway to wide array of permanent housing possibilities that can be used to lease-up (first- and last-months’ rent and security deposit) and other move-in expenses, as well as temporary rent assistance. RRH rent assistance could serve as a bridge to a permanent subsidy, for up to a year, and, if necessary up to two years;
6. Provide a Shared Living Housing Allowance (“shallow subsidy”) for participants capable of independent living intended as a supplement to SSI that might enable clients to secure a room in a shared living arrangement with friends, family, partners, or roommates or as a boarder;
7. Increase congregate shelter beds;
8. Set-aside existing temporary and permanent housing beds for Project Roomkey participants in preparation for their exit;
9. Set-aside permanent supportive housing units that become available as a result of a Move-on strategy;
10. Provide locations where participants in habitable RVs can connect to utilities;
11. Provide safe parking locations with appropriate amenities;
12. Establish preferences in senior housing developments;
13. Work with county and city agencies and departments, nonprofit organizations, and for profit agencies to create a list of available group home, residential care, shared housing, sober living, and other detox and inpatient facilities;
14. Work with county and city agencies and departments to match appropriate participants with available housing opportunities in group home, residential care, sober living, and other detox and inpatient facilities;
15. Work with Public Housing Authorities that adopted a homeless admission preference regarding Housing Choice Vouchers;
16. Work with veterans eligible for HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program;
17. Work with people living with AIDS eligible for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA);
18. Increase income supports and safety net program enrollment; and
19. Provide targeted case management that includes matching participants with appropriate available units and overcoming barriers to obtain the units.

B. Long-term actions

1. Acquire hotels/motels for conversion to permanent housing including permanent supportive housing;
2. Enact land use/zoning changes to streamline acquisition/conversion process;
3. Acquisition and/or rehab of existing buildings for new temporary and permanent housing;
4. Set-aside temporary and permanent housing beds in new projects near completion for Project Roomkey participants in preparation for their exit;
5. Purchase or lease and locate camp trailers.

The 13 CoCs that make up the Southern California CoC Alliance have leveraged a significant amount of federal, state, and local funding that has resulted in thousands of Project Roomkey participants and hundreds of participants exiting local Project Roomkey projects to temporary and/or permanent housing.

The 13 CoCs will likely receive more state funding from the 2020-21 state budget that will be leveraged with federal and local funds, which will mean that hundreds of more persons will exit local Project Roomkey projects to temporary and/or permanent housing.

The California Department of Social Services provides regular and intensive technical assistance, in coordination with other appropriate state partners that included the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing (BCSH), the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) to support local implementation efforts such as those by the 13 CoCs that make up the Southern California CoC Alliance.

In fact, the Southern California CoC Alliance leaders convened a teleconference with federal and state partners yesterday, June 29, 2020, that focused on the short-term and long-term actions noted above for transitioning Project Roomkey participants to temporary and/or permanent housing in order to prevent as many Project Roomkey participants as possible from returning to the streets homeless.

During the teleconference, CoC leaders shared various issues that came up regarding the implementation of short-term and long-term actions in order to help other CoCs avoid or overcome the same issues and/or to hear from other CoCs that are experiencing same or similar issue(s) and hear how they are dealing or dealt with the same or similar issue(s). State partners shared information that helped CoCs resolve implementation issues.

The partnership will continue to focus on issues that come up regarding the implementation of short-term and long-term actions in order to further the successful transitions of Project Roomkey participants during the coming months.

 

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