New Research Sheds Light on Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness Among Unsheltered L.A. Residents Enrolled in Street Outreach Services

Los Angeles, CA—May 24, 2022: A new analysis by the nonpartisan California Policy Lab (CPL) uses data from L.A.’s Street Outreach programs to shed light on the mental health and housing outcomes of more than 45,000 L.A. residents who were unsheltered and received Street Outreach services between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

The analysis links enrollment data from the Street Outreach program to data from the LA County Department of Mental Health and the LA County Department of Health Services to provide estimates of the prevalence of psychotic spectrum disorders (“PSD”) and other serious mental illness (“SMI”) among people who receive Street Outreach services. Unsheltered individuals with SMI may experience symptoms that could cause or contribute to losing housing and that could lengthen the duration of homelessness. This group may need intensive, specialized, and coordinated care in order to exit homelessness. The estimates are considered a lower bound because if somebody received a SMI diagnosis or treatment outside of DMH or DHS, it would not be included in this analysis. The new research also shows housing placements for people who were in Street Outreach programs and shows how housing placements vary based on demographic and SMI characteristics.

Key findings:
• The vast majority (83%) of Street Outreach participants do not have a County service history with a diagnosis for any serious mental illness in the five years before enrolling in Street Outreach services.
• 10% of Street Outreach participants (4,584 people) have been diagnosed with a psychotic spectrum disorder (PSD) within five years prior to their enrollment in Street Outreach.
• An additional 7% of participants (3,277) have been diagnosed for other serious mental illness within five years prior to their Street Outreach enrollment.
• Eighty percent of Street Outreach participants with PSD have previously received homelessness services, compared to 75% of people with Other SMI diagnoses. Only 31% of participants with no SMI have previously received homelessness services prior to enrolling in Street Outreach services.
• Within one year of enrolling in Street Outreach, 40% of participants with a PSD diagnosis are enrolled in some type of housing program, including 33.5% who enrolled in Interim Housing and 6.1% who enrolled in either Rapid Re-housing or Permanent Supportive Housing.

Read more…