The City’s street-based homelessness strategies are intended to identify and assess the needs of unsheltered Angelenos and connect them to resources, services, and housing opportunities. Our multi-faceted approach is focused on conducting outreach and engagement; expanding hygiene, sanitation, and storage options for the unhoused; increasing diversion opportunities for people experiencing homelessness; bringing medical care directly to people living on the streets; responding to emergencies impacting the unhoused, and expanding our collaborations with the broader community around challenges and opportunities in our work to address street-based homelessness. Supporting the needs of our unsheltered neighbors requires a broad range of adaptable strategies; therefore, the programs highlighted below are not an exhaustive summary of the City’s street-based homelessness strategies.
Unified Homelessness Response Center
Mayor Garcetti launched the Unified Homelessness Response Center (UHRC) with a clear purpose: to create a central command post for our daily efforts to tackle the crisis of unsheltered homelessness. The mission of the UHRC is to implement outreach, engagement, and cleanup protocols and to provide a timely, effective, and coordinated street-level response to unsheltered homelessness across the City.
The UHRC brings every facet of our leadership into a single headquarters to coordinate street-level responses to homelessness, so that outreach teams, sanitation crews, law enforcement, and critical City, County, and State partners are working hand-in-hand every single day. The UHRC employs a services-led approach where outreach and engagement are prioritized and inter-agency coordination is focused on protecting the health and safety of those living without shelter. The UHRC has numerous roles and responsibilities that span from coordinating outreach and cleanup operations to orchestrating a multi-jurisdictional response to emergencies impacting our most vulnerable residents.
Encampment to Home
The ‘Encampment to Home’ model emerged in 2021 as an integral part of the City’s strategy to address large homeless encampments in public spaces and to support unhoused Angelenos on their path to permanent housing. As with all of Mayor Garcetti’s homelessness efforts, this strategy leads with housing, services, and compassion. Encampment to Home’s main goals are to safely bring people experiencing homelessness indoors, allow storage of their personal belongings, and clean and manage public spaces. Recent operations have taken place in diverse settings with unique needs, including Echo Park Lake, Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach, MacArthur Park, Westchester Park, and El Pueblo. In 2021, over 600 unsheltered individuals moved indoors through this model.
Crisis and Incident Response through Community-led Engagement (CIRCLE)
The homelessness crisis has made our city’s most vulnerable residents — Angelenos who are unhoused and live on the streets in extreme poverty — among the most likely to come into contact with law enforcement. LAPD estimates that it receives 140,000 calls related to persons experiencing homelessness each year. Many of these interactions further traumatize those experiencing homelessness, fail to lead to critical referrals for care and resources, and exacerbate the cycle between homelessness and the criminal justice system.
Hearing the calls for the City to take action on racial justice, Mayor Garcetti’s $300 million Justice Budget included funding to launch a program for non-police responses to homelessness. The Crisis and Incident Response through Community-Led Engagement, or CIRCLE, pilot program diverts nonviolent 911 calls involving unhoused individuals away from law enforcement and towards outreach teams and trained crisis responders with preexisting relationships in our communities. It’s a first-of-its-kind, 24/7 program to ensure that our unhoused neighbors are met with the compassion and care they deserve and allows our officers to focus on traditional law enforcement efforts. The pilot program currently operates in the Hollywood and Venice communities.
Improving Public Health and Quality of Life
In 2019, Mayor Garcetti chartered the City’s first wide-ranging Public Health Task Force to proactively and rapidly address sanitation and public health concerns in a more holistic manner. The Mayor appointed key senior officials across City agencies to focus on both immediate responses to public health and sanitation emergencies and long-range goals. In addition, the Task Force created protocols for dealing with new emergencies and addressed issues including illegal waste dumping, rodent control, and sanitary conditions for those living, traveling, and working on our streets.
The City has partnered with the Street Medicine team at the USC Keck School of Medicine to bring desperately needed medical care to unhoused Angelenos. Street medicine, or bringing health care directly to those living on the streets, was explicitly developed to address unsheltered individuals’ unique needs and circumstances. Street medicine teams “go to the people” to provide people experiencing homelessness with medical and behavioral health care, treatment for substance use disorders, assistance with housing transitions, and living necessities such as sanitary products and clean water. Studies of street medicine programs indicate that such programs result in increased access to care, improved housing placements, better health outcomes, and significant cost savings for Medi-Cal and hospital systems.
Street medicine is always an essential service for unhoused individuals, and it became only more relevant when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Los Angeles. Street medicine programs have ensured that unhoused Angelenos have access to COVID-19 testing, monitoring, contact tracing, vaccinations, and education on how to follow health recommendations while living on the street.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the City moved quickly to create a mobile team at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) dedicated to offering testing, and later, vaccinations to people experiencing homelessness throughout the City. With the support of CORE, Curative, and LAHSA homeless outreach teams, LAFD’s mobile vaccination units visited over 800 sites, from encampments and resource events to our Tiny Home Villages and A Bridge Home facilities. In 2021, over 7,300 unhoused individuals were tested and nearly 2,000 were vaccinated by LAFD mobile teams, supporting a countywide effort to vaccinate all individuals experiencing homelessness.
Mass Shelter Expansion Program (MSEP)
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the County and the City of Los Angeles partnered to develop strategies to immediately provide people experiencing homelessness with a safe and secure site to shelter in place while seeking permanent housing. Within a couple of weeks, the City and County launched the Mass Shelter Expansion Program, opening emergency shelters at Department of Recreation and Parks’ sites. Between March and November of 2020, a total of 3,214 unhoused Angelenos stayed at 32 sites across the county. The project included 25 congregate shelters and seven sites where individuals were housed in mobile trailers. Thirty-one of the 32 sites were demobilized by November 9, 2020, while the last site, Friendship Auditorium, remained active through the end of 2020. These efforts were in addition to the COVID-19 interim housing program Project Roomkey.
Keeping our Neighborhoods and Streets Clean and Healthy
Mobile Hygiene Services
To support the public health and safety of our most vulnerable residents, the City of Los Angeles provides hygiene services to Angelenos experiencing homelessness. The City’s hygiene services include the Pit Stop program, which provides fully-monitored restrooms across the city, and the portable hygiene unit program, which provides ADA restrooms and handwashing stations at locations that ensure that unhoused individuals have access to safe public restroom facilities. In addition, the City’s mobile hygiene units bring showers to unhoused individuals at locations throughout the city. These critical facilities do more than supplying additional hygiene options for Angelenos in need; they bring comfort, hope, and dignity back into the lives of our unsheltered neighbors.
Cleaning and Rapid Engagement (CARE) Teams
Mayor Garcetti is focused on ensuring our city’s streets and sidewalks are clean and passable while we deliver housing, health resources, and hope to all of our neighbors living without a roof over their heads.
In 2019, the Mayor launched the Cleaning and Rapid Engagement (CARE) program, involving 30 teams that paired ramped-up trash pickup with expanded outreach services to homeless encampments across our neighborhoods.
Each Council District is assigned CARE and CARE+ teams, enabling the City to deploy clean-up services more efficiently and ensure operations are paired with outreach teams who can connect unhoused individuals with services. The teams receive specialized training and deliver public health resources — including daily trash collection and mobile hygiene centers — to Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
CARE+ teams provide more comprehensive cleanings, hygiene services, and place-based engagement, with some focusing on high-need areas like Skid Row, and others working across the city as needed.
Prior to CARE, the Los Angeles Police Department operated Homeless Outreach Proactive Engagement (HOPE) teams to provide education to unhoused Angelenos on laws that impact them and to support sanitation services. HOPE officers received additional training on top of standard patrol training, in order to better work with individuals with a history of trauma.
Voluntary Storage Unhoused Angelenos, like all people, need somewhere safe, secure, and dry to store their belongings. Storage is particularly important in an unhoused individuals’ journey to obtain permanent housing. When moving from the street into interim housing, sometimes individuals have more belongings than they can bring into an interim housing site. In these cases, they can store belongings in storage, until they find a permanent home.
If you or someone you know needs more information on the storage program, please call the 311 Call Center.