Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Homelessness FAQ

  1. Can homelessness actually be solved?

Although homelessness is a complex issue, collective efforts from citizens like you, government agencies, and so forth can end it. Proven strategies to ending homelessness for good include:

  • Adequate affordable housing
  • Assistance to prevent people from losing their housing
  • Permanent supportive housing for people with the most significant needs
  • Supportive services and early intervention for those who fall into homelessness


  1. Does homelessness impact all populations?

Homelessness affects everyone. Homeless people, like the general population, are very diverse. The 2016 Point-in-Time Count for the City of Los Angeles revealed that the homeless population is made up of:

  • Men (68%)
  • Women (31%)
  • Transgender individuals (1%)
  • Individuals (86%)
  • Families (13%).
  • All races and ethnicities


  1. Do all homeless people have a mental illness?

The last two Point-In-Time Counts for the City of Los Angeles revealed that around 30% of homeless individuals experience a mental illness (33% in 2017). The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that about 20% of adults in this country experience mental illness.


  1. MYTH or FACT: All we need is more shelters for our homeless population.

While shelters are an important part of providing homeless individuals with temporary refuge and safety, they are not a long-term solution to providing people with permanenthomes. While emergency shelter may be necessary for short-term crises, it is not a solution to giving people long-term housing.


  1. MYTH or FACT: Some people just want to live on the street.

Some individuals experiencing homelessness may resist moving into emergency or temporary shelter; this is often because moving into that shelter requires them to be separated from their family or property, or follow specific rules that they are not used to. LAHSA reports that from 2011 to 2014, over 84% of those experiencing chronic homelessness retained their housing status after moving into permanent supportive housing. When people are provided with safe, feasible housing options, they stay housed.


  1. Why are veterans experiencing homelessness?

Veterans are at a significantly increased risk of homelessness if they have low socioeconomic status, a mental health disorder, and/or a history of substance abuse. Veterans face the same shortage of affordable housing options and living wage jobs as all Americans. These factors— combined with the increased likelihood that veterans will exhibit symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, or mental illness—can compound to put veterans at a greater risk of homelessness than the general population.


  1. What contributes to female veteran homelessness?

Women who served in the military may be reluctant to seek assistance through veterans’ programs. Their physical safety and psychological well-being, as well as their family status, often require a different housing approach than those afforded by housing options created to meet the needs of male veterans. Compared with male veterans, female veterans may have more limited access to appropriate housing and services, and service providers may find it challenging to reach the female veterans who need assistance.


  1. How does housing help people get jobs and lead healthier lives?

Safe and stable housing provides people with comfort and the opportunity to physically and mentally relax. Anyone who is forced to constantly worry about where they’re sleeping that night would find it challenging to successfully hold down a job.

Additionally, safe and stable housing is crucial to the health and wellbeing of people; we all need shelter from weather, a clean environment to care for health needs, and a space for positive well- being.


  1. What has the Mayor done to address street encampments?

The City is working to decriminalized street homelessness. We have revised L.A.M.C. 56.11 to strike a balance between the needs of residents living on the streets with no other housing alternatives and surrounding residents and business owners. Our HOPE Teams are responding safety hazards through new rapid response teams and proactively engaging with encampment residents to establish relationships. To date, they have contacted over 11,000 (2016  homeless residents and connect them to housing and supportive service opportunities.


  1. Would it be helpful to have a safe place to park for individuals residing in their cars?

A designated space for safe parking could provide homeless individuals a stable location to park overnight. This is connected with homeless case management to help ensure they find housing in the long term. The Comprehensive Homeless Strategy identifies Safe Parking as an important way to address vehicular homelessness. The City, with LAHSA, is piloting a program in partnerships with HOPICS in 2017.