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From Policy to Practice: Responses to Homeless Encampments in Los Angeles

Lauren Dunton, Will Yetvin, Nichole Fiore, Charlene Kwan


April 3, 2023

The visible nature of homeless encampments on neighborhood streets and sidewalks, adjacent to highways, and inside parks in Los Angeles has made them a prominent—and divisive—issue across the region. Elected officials, governmental agencies, homeless services providers, and health care professionals all play a role in responding to encampments and serving the people residing in them. To understand the Los Angeles encampment ecosystem in 2022, Abt Global—on behalf of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation—released a study on responses to homeless encampments throughout Los Angeles County. The findings include:

  • In order to balance quality of life for encampment residents with the overall health of the community, the county and the city have both made outreach to people in encampments the cornerstone of their response. Outreach workers begin by addressing encampment residents’ immediate needs and then try to connect them with any available housing opportunities. Any attempt to clear and close an encampment is preceded by efforts to enhance the quality of life of people in encampments and provide them with alternatives.
  • Responding to encampments—including outreach, providing medical services, cleaning, clearance, and closure—requires large investments in labor and financial resources. Staffing and funding at both the county and city level currently are insufficient to address the number of people in need of housing.
  • A consensus across stakeholders is that the encampment response must go upstream and address the affordable housing crisis in the Los Angeles region.

The report also captures the strategies and protocols employed by the county and city.


Related Reports:

Understanding Homeless Encampments: A Look at Encampment Interventions in Three Los Angeles Communities Report on Early Implementation (Jan. 2024)