Skid Row Housing Trust

Ending chronic homelessness

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation works to make permanent supportive housing a reality for chronically homeless people in Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles is home to more than 12,000 chronically homeless people, many of whom have been homeless for years and have severe disabilities, such as mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and chronic health problems. These are among the most vulnerable people in our society—and they are among the most costly to society, requiring a disproportionate amount of public health and public safety services. A wide body of research shows that permanent supportive housing is the best, most cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness.

National studies show that chronically homeless people—18 percent of the overall homeless population—consume 64 percent of homeless system resources.

The Hilton Foundation, in defining our strategy for solving homelessness in Los Angeles County, conducted a landscape research (pdf) project to understand the issue, the solutions, and the funding landscape.

Vision

In partnership with the public, philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sector stakeholders at work on this urgent issue, the Hilton Foundation aims to eliminate chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County. Together, we will do this in three ways: creating and operating permanent supportive housing, ensuring that the most vulnerable are housed in these units and can stay there as needed, and preventing more people from becoming chronically homeless.

Approach

Studies show that it costs essentially the same—and in some cases even less—to house someone in stable, supportive housing as it does to keep a homeless person in the revolving door of crisis care and emergency shelter. For this reason, the Foundation has championed permanent supportive housing as a leading solution to homelessness. This approach combines affordable housing with a comprehensive system of supports for mental health, substance abuse prevention, employment, and more. In practice, it restores stability, autonomy, and dignity. Permanent supportive housing reduces chronic homelessness costs in Los Angeles by 44 percent.

In 2010, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board approved a program strategy (pdf) to guide our work in homelessness over the next five years. Our current work in this area focuses on three components:

  • Facilitating systemic change to create an enabling environment for permanent supportive housing
  • Strengthening targeted programs, pilots, and providers through leveraged grants
  • Developing and disseminating knowledge for the field

Enduring emphasis on homelessness

For more than two decades, the Hilton Foundation has been addressing homelessness in the United States. Much of our work has focused on the housing and service needs of the long-term homeless, such as those with mental illness. We have also initiated collaboration between homeless services and child development providers to improve outcomes for homeless and at-risk families.

Since 1990, the Foundation has granted more than $70 million seeking to solve the problem of homelessness, of which more than $50 million has targeted our current focus area of increasing access to supportive housing in Los Angeles County. We seed innovations through our support of the Corporation for Supportive Housing and other key partners. We helped spearhead the creation of Funders Together, a national network of private philanthropic organizations working to end homelessness.