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    Toward a New Understanding: The California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness

    Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative

    Year: 2023

    IN CALIFORNIA, more than 171,000 people experience homelessness daily. California is home to 12% of the nation’s population, 30% of the nation’s homeless population, and half the nation’s unsheltered population. While homelessness is a major issue for California, there are many conflicting ideas about what to do about it. To design effective programs and policies to address homelessness, we need to understand who is experiencing it, how they became homeless, what their experiences are, and what is preventing them from exiting homelessness. Executive Summary To answer these questions, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative conducted the California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness (CASPEH), the largest representative study of homelessness since the mid-1990s and the first largescale representative study to use mixed methods (surveys and in-depth interviews). Guided by advisory boards composed of people with lived experience of homelessness and those who work on homelessness programs and policies, we selected eight counties that represent the state’s diversity and recruited a representative sample of adults 18 and older experiencing homelessness throughout California. The investigators conducted the research between October 2021 and November 2022. We administered questionnaires to nearly 3,200 participants, selected intentionally to provide a representative sample, and weighted data to provide statewide estimates. To augment survey responses, we recruited 365 participants to participate in in-depth interviews. With this context, CASPEH provides evidence to shape programs and policy responses to the homelessness crisis.

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