Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Key Terms in Homelessness

Affordable Housing – Housing for which the occupant(s) is/are paying no more than 30 percent of his or her income for gross housing costs, including utilities.

Bridge Housing – A housing intervention that provides an interim residence to participants while they work with housing navigators to become document ready and matched with appropriate permanent housing.

Coordinated Entry System (CES) – A process through which the most vulnerable homeless residents of Los Angeles County are matched with the available and appropriate housing resources. It is being developed by housing developers, service providers and systems leaders in each of the county’s eight Service Planning Areas (SPAs) to more efficiently connect homeless single adult searching for permanent housing to the most appropriate housing resource. Similar systems are being implemented nationwide as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) now mandates this in all communities receiving HUD homeless housing funding.

Continuum of Care (CoC) – Term that serves dual purposes in the arena of homeless service delivery. As a service delivery system, a Continuum of Care is an integrated system of care that guides and tracks homeless individuals & families through a comprehensive array of housing & services designed to prevent and end homelessness. As a jurisdictional body, a Continuum of Care is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) serves as the CoC for the City and most of the County of Los Angeles. Through its Continuum of Care program the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates homeless assistance grants to CoCs. As the lead agency for the Los Angeles CoC, LAHSA submits the annual funding application. a program designed to promote community wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, State and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness; promote access to and affect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Diversion/Prevention – Service programs that divert persons who are at imminent risk of losing their housing from entering the homeless system. Prevention programs offer assistance that leverages other income and provides support to keep clients at risk in their current housing situation or move them rapidly to alternate housing. The assistance is temporary and may be in the form of rental housing assistance, or utilities arrears. Diversion is a case management approach that focuses on helping clients utilize other housing options within their personal network rather than enter the shelter system. This generally involves mediation between friends or family to locate an alternate to entering the homeless system.

Emergency Shelters – Temporary shelter and services designed to facilitate homeless individuals and families’ transition from the streets to appropriate housing. Emergency Shelter is provided free of charge for a maximum of ninety (90) days per client. On a case-by-case basis, clients may remain for a period longer than ninety days if they require a longer period to accomplish a specific goal. Funding may be discontinued if more than 25% of the clients remain in the project longer than 90 days. The shelters are typically in a dormitory style with communal bathrooms and beds are assigned on a first come, first served basis; however, many clients use the same shelter frequently and may have a “regular” bed. Shelters funded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority may use a 14-hour (clients must leave shelter each day) or 24-hour model and provide two or more meals. Beds, sheets, and blankets are provided, and bathroom facilities are available

Housing First – An approach that offers permanent housing as quickly as possible for people experiencing homelessness, particularly for people with long histories of homelessness and co-occurring health challenges, while providing the supportive services people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness. Income, sobriety and/or participation in treatment or other services are voluntary and are not required as a condition for housing. The guiding philosophy of the Housing First approach is that housing provides people with a foundation from which they can pursue other goals. Tenants are assisted in developing or improving skills for independent living while they live in permanent housing instead of requiring them to complete a transitional residential program first.

National research demonstrates that Housing-First is an efficient and cost-effective model to end homelessness among hard-to-serve populations, including people experiencing homelessness with severe mental illness, substance abuse disorders, the formerly incarcerated, and those suffering from chronic episodes of long-time social isolation. A 2009 Economic Roundtable study on homelessness in Los Angeles showed that it costs $605 a month to have someone placed in permanent supportive housing.

The Housing First philosophy removes barriers to housing upfront to encourage healthier lifestyles for chronically homeless people. It is far more difficult for individuals to confront mental health or substance abuse challenges when they don't have a safe place to sleep at night. People are more likely to succeed--and reintegrate into the City's social fabric-- when they have a stable home. With this model, we are getting people off the street first - regardless of their circumstances. No one’s history of prior convictions or mental illness will prevent them from accessing safe housing. By using bridge housing, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing, Angelenos will get off the streets and into homes more quickly and easily.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Joint Powers Authority (JPA) – An entity that is established when two or more public agencies by agreement jointly exercise any power common to the contracting agencies.

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission – The governing body for LAHSA. It is politically appointed, ten member board with five members selected by the County Board of Supervisors and five members chosen by the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles. The Commission has the authority to make budgetary, funding, planning, and program policies. For more information visit

Measure H The approval of Measure H by L.A County voters will authorize the County to impose a one-quarter percent (0.25%) tax that will generate $355 million annually for services and programs to prevent and combat homelessness. The tax applies to all the cities within the County of Los Angeles and will be in effect for 10 years.

No Wrong Door – A philosophy that helps structure a response to homelessness. Any government agency regularly interacting with the general public is a means of connecting homeless individuals with homeless service providers capable of providing basic care, shelter, and housing. Any interaction between homeless individuals and City employees is an opportunity for meaningful engagement that ultimately results in a homeless person connecting with a care provider or case manager.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) – A housing intervention with indefinite rental assistance and supportive services to assist homeless persons with a disability achieve housing stability. Use of services by PSH tenants is purely voluntary and a tenant may not be evicted for lack of use of such services. Tenants must have a written lease which can only be terminated for cause. Tenants pay a portion of the monthly rent based on their income. Homeless individuals may live in converted hotels or Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units (one unit/bed) with kitchenettes, or in houses with individual bedrooms and shared kitchen facilities. Family housing is dependent on family size and is usually one or two bedroom apartments.

Point-in-Time (PIT) Count – A count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. HUD requires that Continuums of Care conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night. Continuums of Care also must conduct a count of unsheltered homeless persons every other year (odd numbered years). Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally.

Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) – A housing intervention that connects homeless individuals and families (from emergency shelters or the streets) to permanent housing through the provision of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services. Component services and assistance generally consist of short-term and medium-term rental assistance, rental arrears, rental application fees, security deposits, advance payment of last month's rent, utility deposits and payments, moving costs, housing search and placement, housing stability case management, mediation, legal services, and credit repair. Living arrangements are typically SRO units, non-SRO apartments or project based permanent supportive housing.

Safe Parking Program – A program that provides a safe parking environment and supportive services for transitional homeless individuals living in their vehicles for overnight stays. Onsight service providers work with participants to help develop a plan with a final emphasis on permanent housing, employment and training.

Service Planning Area (SPA) – A specific geographic region within Los Angeles County. These distinct regions allow the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to develop and provide more relevant public health and clinical services targeted to the specific health needs of the residents in these different areas.

Sheltered Homeless – A homeless person that resides in an emergency shelter, including temporary emergency shelters only open during severe weather; or in transitional housing for homeless individuals who originally came from the streets or emergency shelters.

Transitional Age Youth (TAY) – Young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four who are in transition from state custody or foster care and are at-risk of homelessness. Once they turn 18 they can no longer receive assistance from the systems of care that previously provided for many of their needs.

Transitional Housing (TH) – A housing intervention that provides homeless individuals and families with the interim stability and support to successfully move into and maintain permanent housing. Transitional housing may be used to cover the costs of up to 24 months of housing with accompanying supportive services, but clients can be charged a portion of the rental cost up to 30 percent of adjusted gross income. Transitional housing can be facility based at the project site or community based in apartments (scattered site or transition in place models). The living arrangement is up to 24 months after which the client must move to another apartment or it may “transition in place” where the client remains in the unit and takes over the lease. Under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, clients are still considered homeless, but they lose their chronically homeless status that affects their ability to move on to PSH or RRH.

Unsheltered Homeless – A homeless person that resides in a place not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, or on the street.

2017 Homeless Count Results -  The Greater Los Angeles Homelessness Count gives a snapshot (or a Point-In-Time Count) of homelessness in Los Angeles. It shows us the amount of people experiencing homelessness, the demographics, the distribution across the County, and where they are staying.