As nearly 60,000 thousand people are homeless each night in Los Angeles, the public grapples with basic questions about who they are and what factors or events might have led many of them to become homeless. Many perceive the homeless as afflicted by serious mental illness, substance abuse, or physical illness, and in fact many people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable. Yet less is known about the basic economic conditions and the role of unemployment in homelessness. Many assume by default that homeless individuals are not working or haven’t worked recently, but these assumptions have not been tested through a systematic study of employment patterns among people receiving homeless services in Los Angeles. Through the first-ever linkage between California state wage records and homeless services data, this study seeks to answer several basic questions: How many homeless people in Los Angeles have a work history in California? How many worked shortly before, during, or after enrollment for homeless services? If they are working, how much are they earning and in what industries are they employed?
Employment and Earnings Among LA County Residents Experiencing Homelessness
California Policy Lab