The pathways into homelessness have been described through anecdotal stories but are seldom explored using public agency data for a large population over an extended time. This study aims to help overcome that deficit and provide a more definitive portrait of such pathways. This window on homelessness is drawn from nine years of public assistance records for 8,969,289 residents of Los Angeles County who received some form of public assistance from 2002 through 2010, including 942,562 recipients who experienced episodes of homelessness.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, together with the California Employment Development and Social Services departments, authorized release to the Economic Roundtable of all public assistance recipient records from 2002 through 2010, quarterly wage records, and health, mental health, child welfare, justice system, and education records for individuals who received any type of public assistance. This report provides the first results from this project, analyzing homeless dynamics in public assistance records. The larger project, once funded, will link records to integrate data across agencies and identify opportunities to prevent and avoid public costs for chronic homelessness. This comprehensive analysis includes health, mental health, justice system, education, child welfare, and labor market outcomes.