CAUSES....Why are so Many people homeless?

The causes can vary widely, but often homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. People who are poor are frequently unable to pay for necessities such as housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Being poor can mean a person is one illness, one accident, or one paycheck away from living on the streets. A recent annual survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors listed the top causes of homelessness among families and individuals as the following:

(1) lack of affordable housing*
(2) unemployment
(3) poverty
(4) mental illness and the lack of needed services
(5) substance abuse and the lack of needed services

(1) lack of affordable housing*
(2) unemployment
(3) poverty
(4) low wages

WHAT WE MAKE VS. WHAT WE NEED TO MAKE to afford housing in Los Angeles (2015)


Los Angeles County is now considered the least affordable rental market in the country making housing out of reach for most middle class families and almost impossible for those making minimum wage.

 On average, renters in L.A. are paying 47% of their income for rent. The average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles County is about $2,300 per month. *In order for housing to be considered affordable, a family should not spend more than 30% of its income on rent. Thus, a working family needs to earn nearly $42 per hour – or $87,880 per year – to afford the average rent in Los Angeles.

SOLUTIONS...We Know What Works!

We know that permanent supportive housing works in reducing homelessness.  But it is also the most cost-effective way to do it. 

By reducing the use of crisis services frequently used by people experiencing homelessness—services like emergency rooms, hospitals, jails, prisons, psychiatric centers, detox programs—there is significant public cost savings. In fact, recent studies show that permanent supportive housing not only pays for itself but actually results in net public savings.

Effective Cost Solutions

Average annual cost of permanent supportive housing for one person verses public costs of one person living on the streets for a year.

We know that permanent supportive housing works in reducing homelessness.  But it is also is the most cost-effective way to end homelessness. It is also the most successful way to do it.

*Includes costs for: hospitals & clinics, paramedics, police/courts, jail & welfare services.

“L.A. renters are paying on average 47% of their income on rents. That’s the highest median rent burden in the country. Los Angeles is now the most unaffordable rental market in the country.”
— 2016 study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

For more information about causes & solutions for homelessness visit:

Housing California

Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH)

Home For Good – United Way of Greater LA

National Alliance To End Homelessness