LA’s Housing Program Reduced Overall Costs For Homeless Services Interview with:
“Homeless” by Sonny Abesamis is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Sarah Hunter, PhD
Senior Behavioral Scientist, RAND Corporation
Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica, CA 90401-3028 What is the background for this study?

Response: In 2014, RAND was contracted by Brilliant Corners in collaboration with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to conduct an evaluation of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health (HFH) program.  The HFH program began in 2012 with the goal of providing permanent supportive housing for frequent utilizers of county health services who were experiencing homelessness. What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings were that the program was successful in providing permanent supportive housing to over 890 individuals during its first 2.5 years of operation.  The program had a 96% housing stability rate at 12 months post-housing.

The most compelling findings were that county service utilization was reduced by 60% from the 12-months pre-housing to the 12-months post-housing period for the first 890 participants in the program.  Even after taking into account the costs of the permanent supportive housing, the county realized a reduction in costs of 20%.  This results in $1.20 savings for every $1.00 invested.  Since then, the county has increased program enrollment to over 3,500 placements. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Providing permanent supportive housing for frequent utilizers of county health service systems who are experiencing homelessness may be a cost effective approach to addressing homelessness. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: More research is needed as this program scales up to serve more people.  It is not clear whether the cost savings will continue with more diverse populations enrolled in the program and what the longer-term (post 12-months housing) impact the program may have on both health outcomes and service utilization. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Hunter, Sarah B., Melody Harvey, Brian Briscombe and Matthew Cefalu. Evaluation of Housing for Health Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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Last Updated on December 6, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD