Eviction protections, payments kept homelessness in check in L.A., study shows

Eviction moratoriums and cash proceeds from extended unemployment insurance and stimulus payments helped thousands of economically vulnerable people in Los Angeles County stay homeless during the pandemic, a new study has found.

The study, released Wednesday by the Economic Roundtable, estimates that homelessness increased by 13% from 2020 to 2022 – a higher number than the official number – but would have risen to 23% without the interventions.

“Eviction moratoriums and cash payments have kept households and workers intact during the Covid pandemic,” the study said. “Both of these interventions worked.”

The Breaking the Fall report argues that the same measures, supplemented by re-employment services, should be used to reduce a further possible rise in homelessness if there is a recession next year.

A rise in the unemployment rate to 5.25% could result in an estimated 7,040 people in Los Angeles County losing their homes over the next four years, the analysis says. The effect would be nationwide, with more than 20,000 new homeless people in California and almost 62,000 in the United States.

“The most important thing is to learn from our successes and continue to do things that have helped keep people out of homelessness,” Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable, said in an interview. “It is in everyone’s interest to prevent a problem rather than deal with a tragedy later. Protecting the homes and incomes of people at risk of homelessness is an easier and more productive solution than waiting until we have to provide them with shelter later.”

The study challenges the results of the official homeless census, conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and backs critics who claim the count is underestimated. Agency statisticians estimated that overall homelessness in the county increased by 4.1% from 2020 to 2022, but that an increase in the percentage of people in shelters resulted in a slight decrease in the number of people living on the streets.

The report detailed two main flaws in the count: glitches in the cell phone app used to tabulate results on site, and a decrease in the number of volunteers after LAHSA changed the count due to a spike in COVID-19 cases was delayed a month.

The Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that seeks to guide public policy through research on economic, social, and environmental conditions, has delved deeply into homelessness and has published previous studies supporting those by the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of USC for LAHSA developed methodology to critically evaluate social work.

Ben Henwood, a professor at the school of social work, said he agreed with some of the roundtable’s suggestions for improving the count but defended its accuracy.

Henwood said he and fellow UCLA Fielding School of Public Health colleague Randall Kuhn explained the anomalies claimed by the roundtable in a presentation this fall to USC’s Homeless Policy Research Institute.

“With the exception of one census area in Venice, everything else seemed pretty reasonable after all the quality checks,” he said.

The Roundtable’s analysis of the impact of pandemic relief efforts rested on two statistical pillars. First, by comparing the link between unemployment and homelessness after the 2008 recession, it projected the likely growth in homelessness as a result of the pandemic’s economic disruptions. It then subtracted its newly calculated number for the 2022 count from that projection.

She attributed most of the impact to renter protections, saying they’d reduced evictions by half statewide and by more in California and Los Angeles.

Next up were cash receipts from unemployment insurance and stimulus payments to prevent the hardship of most unemployed low-income workers through mid-2021.

About a fifth of vulnerable workers benefited from the expanded child tax credit, and a small portion of the workforce benefited from rent rebates and the paycheck protection program, the analysis said.

The report argues that the homeless service system cannot be expected to prevent homelessness in a future economic downturn.

“The really obvious and massive problem that causes homelessness in recessions is the lack of employment,” Flaming wrote in the report. “We are equipped with the tools we need to tackle homelessness. It’s up to us to use them.”

The homeless services system doesn’t have those tools, he said. “It is the responsibility of established public systems to provide income support and protect housing.”

A final recommendation, challenging the wide reach of pandemic aid payments, is that financial interventions should be targeted using predictive analytical screening to identify unemployed people who are most likely to become homeless.

Flaming’s methodology has raised some eyebrows among others addressing homelessness.

Using a forecast as an assumed outcome and comparing it to an estimated actual outcome “is a really speculative exercise, I think,” said Jason Ward, associate economist at Rand Corp.

Ward, who also researches new counting methods, said he thought Flaming’s recalculation of the count data “isn’t a bad idea,” but questioned the validity of comparing the protracted recession beginning in 2008 with the sharp but brief downturn in 2020.

“My impression is that sharp changes in employment would lead primarily to more duplication, housing and rapid conversion rather than a tangible increase in vulnerable homelessness,” he said.

Flaming took the criticism calmly. There is no denying that unemployment and homelessness are linked, he said.

“Jason is right when he says the linkage is inaccurate,” he said. “What exactly this ratio is, we should understand better and study more.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-15/eviction-protections-and-relief-checks-kept-homelessness-in-check-during-the-pandemic-a-new-study-found Eviction protections, payments kept homelessness in check in L.A., study shows

Alley Einstein

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button