Strategy Document

Chronic Homelessness Initiative Strategy Summary

April 2010

Homeless persons are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the U.S., experiencing damaging health and personal outcomes and representing high economic costs for society. In February 2010, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation board approved a program strategy to guide its work in this area over the next five years. The Foundation will work with a wide range of public, philanthropic, private and nonprofit partners to help end chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County.

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Julia Friedman

Senior Communications Manager

The Challenge

Chronic homelessness in L.A. is significant, urgent and costly. Los Angeles has nearly 50,000 homeless people every night. Approximately one-quarter of L.A.’s homeless are considered chronically homeless. People in this group typically suffer from a variety of disabilities and illnesses—often including mental illness—that go largely untreated. They also use a disproportionate amount of health and other public services. Nationally, the chronically homeless represent 18% of the overall homeless population, yet they consume 64% of homeless system resources. A recent study in Los Angeles found that the annual costs to society of each chronically homeless individual total approximately $35,000.

The Hilton Foundation’s Historical Role

Conrad Hilton’s charge to the Foundation in his last will and testament was to use its funds to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.” Twenty years ago, this mandate led the Foundation to examine the issue of homelessness. Since that time, the organization has supported efforts to end long-term homelessness—especially among the mentally ill—across the nation. Through partnerships with other funders and key organizations, such as the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), the Foundation has sought to advance compassionate and cost-effective solutions to homelessness. Since 1990, the Foundation has granted approximately $30 million to address homelessness, primarily by advancing permanent supportive housing (PSH) as the solution to long-term homelessness. In addition, the Foundation has worked with other foundations, public leaders and service providers to develop solutions to homelessness across the country. Over time, the foundation’s work in this area has increasingly focused on Los Angeles County.

The Foundation’s Vision and Strategy

Building on recent successes the Hilton Foundation’s seeks to help end, not just manage, chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. The vision for this strategy is to:

Eliminate chronic homelessness in L.A. through the successful creation and operation of supportive housing, by ensuring that the most needy are housed and stay housed in these units, and through efforts to prevent additional individuals from becoming chronically homeless.