Homelessness in Downtown LA

These neighborhood profiles highlight the intersections of COVID-19 and other social and economic indicators in specific neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County. They are a feature of the NDSC COVID-19 Dashboard.
Individuals experiencing homelessness are uniquely vulnerable to complications, severe illness, and death from contracting COVID-19. According to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, 92% of those who have died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and asthma.  According to the 2020 Homeless Count, nearly 30% of the unhoused individuals in LA County report having a physical illness or other long-term health condition. 
To help combat the spread of COVID-19 among some of the most vulnerable Angelenos, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has partnered with LA County Public Health, the Department of Health Services, and the Department of Mental Health to create a temporary housing program for people experiencing homelessness through the use of hotels and motels. This program, called Project Roomkey, provides emergency temporary shelter to high-risk individuals, including those who are 65 or older or have underlying health conditions. Each Project Roomkey site also provides supportive services, onsite supervision and three meals each day for participants. LA County has partnered with hotel associations in the region to help identify and recruit local hoteliers for host rooms for the program. There are currently 37 sites providing 3,922 beds for PEH . As of 9/14, 5,701 clients have been served and over 650,000 meals have been distributed. In addition to Project Roomkey, LAHSA extended 12 Winter Shelter Program sites to provide over 900 beds to unsheltered individuals. The City of Los Angeles and LAHSA are currently working to set up 42 planned shelters and have recently opened the first eight of them.
The chart below shows the percent of  total Project Roomkey contracted beds by Service Planning Area (SPA). The chart on the left shows the total COVID-19 Cases in Homeless Service Settings in Los Angeles County. Scroll over the neighborhoods to view a breakdown of the cases by resident and staff and total deaths per neighborhood. Select your neighborhood from the menu to add it to the chart. 
These efforts have helped mitigate major COVID-19 outbreaks among the population experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.  As of September 13th, there have been a total of 147 COVID-19 cases (38 staff; 109 non-staff) in homeless service settings, including shelters, encampments, and single room units. There have been only 3 deaths related to COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness. Downtown LA area has the highest number of COVID-19 cases among people experiencing homelessness of any neighborhood in Los Angeles County, likely due to the large homeless population living in the neighborhood. Downtown LA is in SPA 4 (Metro) and there are currently 9 Project Roomkey sites in the area providing over 1,000 beds to high risk homeless individuals.

Molly Creighton
Molly Creighton is a Master’s Student in the Public Policy Program at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. Currently, she is a data researcher at the Price Center for Social Innovation where she collects, analyzes and disseminates LA neighborhood-level data through data stories to community partners through the Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC). She has also worked on jail reform initiatives in Alameda County, implementing a women’s health program within the county Jail. Her policy interests include sustainability, social justice and the intersection of mental health and incarceration. 
Sources: 
COVID-19: Project RoomKey. County of Los Angeles. Link
Los Angeles County Emergency Operations Center COVID-19 Update 9/11/2020. County of Los Angeles. Link
2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count Results. Los Angeles Housing Services Authority. Link
Project RoomKey Live Dashboard. Los Angeles Housing Services Authority. Link