Last month, 200 volunteers participated in the Skid Row Homeless Count. The count was led by Downtown Pathway Home and Lamp Community, in partnership with the Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, Community Solutions, and the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA).
Over the course of three nights, volunteers engaged and successfully surveyed a total of 532 individuals. Surveyors collected basic demographic data, which will be utilized by LAHSA for their annual count. They also administered the vulnerability index, a method designed to identify demographic and clinical factors associated with an increased risk of death in homeless individuals. Of those surveyed, 329 individuals, 62%, are chronically homeless. This means they have been homeless for a year or more and have serious health, mental health, or substance abuse problems. 199 individuals, 37%, are vulnerable based upon health conditions and other indicators associated with high mortality. 83 respondents, 16%, were Veterans, 35 (42%) of which are vulnerable and at a high risk of dying on our streets.
On average, vulnerable individuals have spent 6 years living on the street. Due to health problems, these individuals are frequent users of health services including in patient care are emergency room visits. In total, respondents reported 771 inpatient hospitalizations in the past year. Assuming an average cost of $2,566 per day, these visits total an estimated annual cost of $2 million. Research shows that it is much cheaper to house our homeless neighbors than to leave them on the streets cycling in and out of hospitals.
The information collected during the count will serve to augment Skid Row’s current by name registry. The list will then be used by Downtown Pathway Home (DPH) to prioritize the most vulnerable individuals for housing. Over the next several weeks, outreach workers will canvass the community to begin the housing process and bring our most vulnerable neighbors home for good.
For more information on Skid Row’s homeless count, download the full report.