HPRI Symposium: Unsheltered Homelessness

Perhaps the most discussed issue related to homelessness is unsheltered homelessness. People experiencing street homelessness have an increased risk of adverse health outcomes and, potentially, death. From April 2020 to March 2021 alone, 1,988 unhoused individuals died in Los Angeles County, a 56% increase from the previous 12 months (NYT). Although historically marginalized racial/ethnic groups are more likely to experience this form of homelessness, the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness is on the rise and includes “people of every race, ethnicity, gender, and most age groups. Only children (people under 18) have realized an overall decrease in unsheltered homelessness” in recent years (NAEH). Questions remain on how best to serve people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Are encampment “sweeps” effective practices or do they exacerbate the experience of homelessness? What are the intersections between the criminalization of unsheltered homelessness and racial inequities? What kind of Interim Housing solutions are most effective; and which groups benefit the most from it? What types of outreach practices can help move someone from the streets to housing? This symposium furthered these discussions with informed perspectives to facilitate collaborative approaches toward ending unsheltered homelessness.

Presenters and Panelists:

  • Dr. Benjamin Henwood, Professor of Social Work, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
  • Dr. Randall Kuhn, Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
  • Dr. Sarah Hunter, Senior Behavioral Scientist at RAND, Director of the RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness
  • Dr. Jason Ward, Associate Economist; Associate Director, RAND Center for Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles
  • Alexander Lawton, MPH, Survey Researcher 2, Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
  • Colleen Murphy,Associate Director, Unsheltered Strategies, LAHSA
  • Berlin Contreras, Senior Manager, Street-Based Access and Engagement
  • William Jackson III, Special Teams Housing Navigator, HousingWorks


  • Gary Painter, Director, USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, Homelessness Policy Research Institute
  • Saba Mwine, Managing Director, Homelessness Policy Research Institute


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