Audit slams L.A. homeless agency on interim housing access

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is facing criticism for its poor and unreliable data collection, making it difficult for unhoused people and the city to know how many temporary beds are available and being used at any given time. According to a new city audit, LAHSA’s software-based reservation system for shelter bed availability is so unreliable that the agency monitors bed availability using phone calls and daily emails.

The audit also found that LAHSA’s Find-a-Shelter app had inaccurate data and limited functionality. This deficiency in data collection raises concerns about the city’s ability to address the homelessness crisis with urgency and calls into question the validity of its efforts not to criminalize poverty.

LAHSA has announced plans to enhance its data practices and improve the accuracy of its bed availability information, with a new bed-availability system in the works that will be fully implemented by the end of 2024. Additionally, the agency is developing a new client portal to improve communication tools for those seeking services.

Historically, Los Angeles has struggled with homelessness, with only 16,100 interim housing beds available for the estimated 46,260 people experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness in the city according to LAHSA’s 2023 homeless count. The city controller’s office has recommended that LAHSA redesign its shelter bed availability system and craft an enforcement plan to ensure accurate reporting of bed attendance and availability data. Furthermore, an interim housing bed availability map has been launched by the city controller’s office in the hopes of serving as an example for LAHSA to follow.

In conclusion, the audit of LAHSA’s data collection and the push for improved accuracy and functionality in the agency’s systems demonstrates the ongoing challenges in addressing the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The city’s efforts to provide shelter and services for its unhoused population will continue to be scrutinized and evaluated as it grapples with this complex issue.

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