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This publication provides a means for identifying homeless individuals with the most severe needs-a particular population which would provide the greatest costs savings to the public when housed. This study looks at 10,193 homeless persons in L.A. County, of which, 1,007 exited homelessness via supportive housing. Supportive housing means permanent housing that is affordable with on-site case management for issues such as health, mental health, and substance abuse. The homeless population examined was portioned in ten equal sized groups ranked according to public costs that were incurred due to their homeless status (these costs include experiences with the justice system such as jails and healthcare services such as hospitals). Certain traits which were prevalent in the highest cost group were then identified. This report includes an interactive Excel tool using variable indicators (based on the certain traits mentioned above) which can be used to calculate the probability that a person will fall in the highest cost group (the top 10%). The report also offers general policy recommendations on addressing high need/high cost homeless populations in L.A.

Selected Findings:

  • The most expensive (in terms of public costs) top 10% of homeless population in L.A. County incur public costs (due to hospital and jail use) is about $8,083 per month, compared to $710 for the other 90 percent of homeless persons. (pg. 1).
  • The average local cost for residents in supportive housing is about $605 a month, compared to $2,897 a month for someone not housed (remaining homeless) (pg. 3).
  • The most expensive (in terms of public costs) 10% of single adults who are homeless account for about 56% of all the public costs for single homeless individuals in L.A. (pg. 1).
  • Healthcare costs decline 85% for homeless individuals entering permanent supportive housing (pg. 4).