Social Change Project Assignment

Social Change Project

Homeless in Los Angeles and social work values/ethics

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The state of homelessness in America report (2019) show that as of 2019, more than half a million people in the United States go homeless on a single night: 65% of the population is found homeless in shelters while 35% spend their nights in places that are inhabitable for humans. California is home to 47% of the homeless population, which is about four times as high as Californias share of the overall us population. The Los Angeles Times (Oreskes and Smith, 2020) report that the rate of homeless in the Los Angeles state grew for the fifth year running during the pandemic. The results of the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count as presented by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) show a 12.7% increase in the homelessness population in the county while Los Angeles city experienced an increase of 14.2%. Further, black residents are more likely to fall into homelessness than any other race in the county of LA.

The homelessness issue is at the core of a social workers main area of services they offer. A social worker is bound by the core values that inform their purpose and perspective: service, social justice, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competence and dignity, and individual worth. Social work values and ethics view human life as worthy, and every human deserves to receive fundamental human rights. Housing is a basic human right that homeless people are not accorded when they are homeless. Further, homelessness threatens the dignity and worth of an individual and limits the social justice that social workers strive to defend and offer.

History of the problem

Before the Covid 19 pandemic took a toll on Los Angeles and the increase in homelessness, the rate of the homeless population was already on the rise. Over the last 5years, the rate of homelessness has increased by 50% in LA. A UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy (Shelley et al., 2021) outlines the history of the homelessness crisis. The homeless problem in LA started in the 19th Century when immigrant workers came to the west to work in the industries of logging and crop harvesting: most men came to live in cheap housing in what was later identifies ad Skid Row. The 1930 great depression increased the homeless population with high job losses: the government tried to address the homeless situation by creating employment opportunities (Shelley et al., 2021). The crisis started within the world war II period when the city’s population was growing, and the city administrators could not provide sufficient housing. In 1942, the federal housing development and zoning practices left many people of color without access to these housing facilities (Shelley et al., 2021). Further, the crisis was exacerbated in 1950, when most mental health care institutions in California were shut down, leaving many patients on the streets. Within the 70s, the increase in the black population was not matched with increased housing in regions allowed to the people of color increased the homeless population. Further, the cost of housing was too high in the 70s for the black community (Shelley et al., 2021). By 1984, LA county was identified as the homeless capital of America (Shelley et al., 2021). The situation has not changed much since then. The increase of the population in the 90s without an equal increase in housing development has contributed significantly to the current crisis. Further, historically the political class has colluded with real estate developers and businessmen to develop policies that would keep the cost of housing very high.

The policy is related to the problem, which dictates the policy and aspects of the policy, how long has it been in place, who supports or opposes the policy, changes to the policy, the impact of the policy in a clinical setting.

Since the beginning of the homeless crisis in the policy in the federal government has to put in place policies at reducing the problem. In August 2015, the LA County Board of Supervisors launched the homeless initiative as a policy recommendation in dealing with homelessness. The initiate is a comprehensive combination of 47 strategies to address the homeless crisis. The policy is founded on the belief that subsidized housing is critical in preventing homelessness, and there is a need to have sufficient funding for the program. Measure H sales tax, which was approved with the HI policy, was meant to supplement the already declining federal funding for housing development.

The policy is outlined in 6 key areas: prevention of homelessness, outreach, permanent housing, increased income, services, and temporary housing. Prevention of homeless efforts includes reducing the homeless people from government institutions such as foster care, hospitals, and jails and ensuring that families do not lose their homes. Strategy A1 for family and strategy A5 for individuals involves providing funding to those who are at risk of losing their housing(County of Los Angeles, 2021).). Temporary housing is meant to ensure that homeless individuals have access to short-term housing with access to all resources and services for purposes of transitioning to permanent housing: strategy B7 increases the supply of temporary houses for people discharged from institutions. In addition, it increases emergency housing (Strategy E8). Outreach involves ensuring that homeless people are connected to essential services such as health, mental health, and housing through a country outreach system(strategy E6) County of Los Angeles, 2021). Parts of the HI policy also require that homeless persons have access to services integral in meeting the needs of the homeless persons through training first responders in dealing with homeless families. The HI policy also includes strategies to increase the income of homeless people to enable them to pay for their housing by assisting vulnerable individuals in accessing benefits (Strategies C4/C5/C6) (County of Los Angeles, 2021). The ultimate goal of LA HI is to provide permanent housing for people at risk of homeless through funding high-quality tenant services (Strategy D7) (County of Los Angeles, 2021). The strategies have been implemented with the help of funding from the state and federal government. However, the local government is solely responsible for providing the services required: the local government understands the challenges related to homelessness in their communities. The policy has received support from the Governors’ office, which has included a considerable portion of the state funding. However, the policy is still in implementation.

The application of the policy in California and Los Angeles impacts the clinical setting of social workers. The policy and project imply that social workers will have to ensure that each and everyone exiting health care facilities receive the necessary help in finding housing opportunities and good services. Therefore, social workers will have to amend discharge procedures for mental health patients to ensure they are not discharged into homelessness. Further, the strategies to be implemented by the housing initiative require that social workers understand the elements of supportive housing to keep social workers up to date with the program. Most social workers will now have to provide social support to patients who have mental illness and the homeless. LAHSA reported that the number of people put in housing was the highest during the year, but the surge was due to Covid related homelessness.



Sheeley, K. M., Katz, A. B., Klein, A., Richards, J., Verri, F. J., Vestal, M. and Yaroslavsky, Z. (Jan, 2021). The Making of a crisis: History of Homelessness in Los Angeles.

Oreskes, B. and Smith, D. (June 12, 2020). Homelessness jumped 13% in LA County, 14% in the city before the pandemic.

The State of Homelessness in America: The Council of Economic Advisers (September 2019).

County of Los Angeles (2021).

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