Statistics to understand the big picture.




58,936: LA County residents experiencing homelessness (a 12 percent increase since last year).

36,300: City of Los Angeles residents experiencing homelessness (up 16 percent since last year).

75 percent: Share of homeless residents who lack permanent shelter (in both the city and county of LA).

54,882: LA County residents LAHSA estimates became homeless in 2018. Of the more than 100,000 people who likely experienced homelessness at some point during the year, 21,631 were housed through county programs and an estimated 27,080 were able to reenter housing themselves.

63 percent: Share of homeless residents who are now without housing for the first time. Of those experiencing first-time homelessness, 53 percent say they lack housing for economic reasons.

16,528: People living in cars, vans, or RVs. In the city of Los Angeles, it’s illegal to do this in residential neighborhoods, leaving only a patchwork of commercial streets available for those sleeping in vehicles overnight.

11,086: People living in tents and makeshift shelters. That’s up 17 percent since last year’s count.

3,926: Youth experiencing homelessness. That’s up 24 percent since last year, though LAHSA says its methodology for counting homeless youth has changed.

71 percent: Share of those experiencing homelessness who do not have a serious mental illness or substance abuse issues.

75 percent: Share of homeless residents who have lived in LA County for at least five years.

33.2 percent: Share of homeless residents who are black. Meanwhile, black residents make up 8 percent of the county’s population. LAHSA attributes this discrepancy to “structural racism,” and a committee investigating the issue earlier this year recommended 67 strategiesfor addressing it—including tenant protections, expanded social services, and enforcement of laws preventing discrimination in both employment and housing.

16,529: Chronically homeless residents, who have been without housing for a year or more and have a disabling condition

5,303: Units of supportive housing for chronically homeless residents approved through the city of LA’s Measure HHH. More than 1,300 are now under construction, though no permanent units have been completed yet.

1,309: Homeless residents with HIV or AIDs—a huge 77 percent increase over last year.

24,493: People placed into interim housing in 2018. Countywide, an additional 1,841 beds became available in the last year. In the city of Los Angeles, more are on the way through Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program.

1,187: Homeless residents in Los Angeles City Council District 4, which is represented by Councilmember David Ryu and includes parts of Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Sherman Oaks. That’s a 53 percent increase over 2018, the largest in any of the city’s 15 council districts. Only three saw decreases since last year. District 3, which encompasses the western San Fernando Valley, and District 15, which includes Watts and the Harbor area, both saw spikes of at least 45 percent.





Nearly one in six Californians experience some mental illness.

1 out of every 24 have a mental illness so serious it becomes difficult for them to function in daily life.

About three quarters of serious mental illnesses first appear before the age of 25.

 One out of every six California adults experienced at least four potentially traumatic adverse events during childhood—abuse, neglect or domestic violence among them. This greatly increases their risk of depression, anxiety, suicide and post traumatic stress disorder.

Suicides have increased dramatically, reflecting a national trend. More than 4,300 Californians died by suicide in 2017, a 52 percent increase from 2001.

The problem was particularly pronounced for the young: Suicides among adolescents aged 15 to 19 increased 63 percent.

A third of adults who received county mental health services for serious mental illnesses had a co-occurring substance use disorder. The stakes for these individuals are especially high:

People with drug or alcohol use disorders are almost six times more likely to attempt suicide than those without.

A statewide poll shows that the top health issue Californians want their governor and Legislature to address is making sure treatment is available for people with mental health problems: 88 percent called it extremely or very important.

Most Californians think there's a lack of available mental health care

Do you think that most people with mental health conditions in California are able to get the services they need, or not? 57% believe they do not.

Jails and prisons have become default psychiatric institutions.

The largest psychiatric institutions in the state and nation are not hospitals—they are jails and prisons. Far more people in California with mental illness are behind bars than in hospital beds.

Over 30 percent of California prisoners currently receive treatment for a serious mental disorder, an increase of 150 percent in nearly two decades.

 About a third of homeless people have serious mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center. With California’s homeless population nearing 130,000, that means an estimated 43,000 suffer from serious mental illness.

Licensed board-and-cares are closing at a rapid rate.

There is no reliable statewide data tracking the facilities, which provide food, laundry and medication help and often serve as a safety net for people with serious mental illness who can’t live independently. But since 2012, San Francisco has lost more than a third of licensed residential facilities that serve people under 60, and more than a quarter of those serving older clients. Los Angeles has lost more than 200 beds for low-income people with serious mental illness in the past year.

 As housing values soar and minimum-wage increases drive up staffing costs, government-set reimbursement rates have remained stagnant. The homes receive $1058—just under $35 a day—from tenants to pay for housing, 24-hour-care and three daily meals. 

Emergency department visits resulting in an inpatient psychiatric admission increased by 30% between 2010 and 2015. 

“Practically speaking, the emergency rooms of hospitals and jails are where people are taken for treatment, which is all wrong,” says Judge Stephen Manley, who started one of the nation’s first mental health courts in Santa Clara County more than 20 years ago. “The emergency room has no room for them and jails do not have expertise.”

For those experiencing a psychiatric emergency that requires a hospital stay, beds can be hard to come by. Since 1995, California has lost nearly 30 percent of its acute care psychiatric hospital beds. Having to travel long distances can make it hard for families to visit a patient and can also make it more difficult for hospitals to plan for safe discharge.

Almost half of counties ad no adult acute psychiatric beds, and the vast majority had no psychiatric beds for children, as of 2015.

For adolescents, the picture is even worse. The state has only eight juvenile psychiatric beds for every 100,000 minors.

California lags behind the rest of the country: 37 percent of Californian adults with mental illness received mental health services during the past year, compared to a national average of almost 43 percent.

Privately insured people face barriers to treatment, too. California patients in 2015 were more than seven times as likely to get treatment for mental health and addiction from providers outside their insurance plan’s network as patients who were seeking medical or surgical care.





Substance Use Disorder

Of CA state budget 2¢ per $1 spent in CA pays for prevention and treatment, 98¢ per $1 spent in CA pays for consequences.

Annually in LAC (Los Angeles County), 108,809 AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) related hospitalizations average $60,947 charge per AOD-hospitalization. AOD-hospital charges cost the county $6.6 billion dollars a year.

Among inmates incarcerated at federal or state prison or county jails in California, 65% meet medical criteria for an SUD (Substance Use Disorder) ; 25% were incarcerated for drug law violations, including possession or use, trafficking, or other unspecified substance offenses; and 43% were under the influence of AOD at the time of the crime.

Substance use and addiction accounts for about 19.5% of the California state budget. In 2005, $7.7 billion, or 82.2% of the total justice (adult corrections, juvenile justice, judiciary) spending in California is related to substance abuse. Government spending for substance abuse for prevention and treatment was 339 million (1.7%), compared to the $19.5 billion (98%) spending on its consequences in California.

Drug treatment in the community returns $4 to $7 in benefits to society for every $1 spent.

March 2019 Report:




52% of drug overdose deaths involved Rx drugs, of which 71% involved Rx opioids.

Among new heroin users in the US, about 4 in 5 (79.5%) reported misusing/abusing Rx opioids before starting their heroin

The strongest risk factor for a heroin use disorder is a Rx opioid use disorder. People who abuse or are dependent on Rx opioids are 40 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin

In 2017, among individuals aged 12 or older who misused/abused Rx opioid in the past year, most (53%) had obtained Rx opioids from their friends or relatives; 36% were prescribed Rx opioids from one (35%) or more than one doctor (1%); 6% bought from drug dealer or other stranger, 5% stole from a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, or pharmacy, or by some other way

In 2008-2017, over 400 opioid prescriptions were filled per 1,000 residents in LAC each year, which is enough to supply a bottle of opioids to over half of all adults in LAC, though the rate has been steadily declining since 2014.

In 2017, Rx drugs were involved in about 52% of drug overdose deaths. About 71% of Rx drug overdose deaths involved Rx opioids.

Statewide annual hospital charges for opioid-related (excluding heroin) hospitalizations significantly increased by 298% from $463 million in 2006 to $1.84 billion in 2017.

March 2019 Report:




Total hospital charges for meth-related hospitalizations in LAC increased 438% from $193 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2017. Meth-related hospitalizations in LAC resulted in $5.3 billion in total charges from 2008-20171

In 2017, 66% of clients who reported meth as the primary drug problem had used meth before or during sex in the past year21.




 2018 Alcohol-related Tangible Costs in Los Angeles County $11.1 billion, Healthcare $1.3 billion, Lost Productivity $8.0 billion, Other$1.9 billion

The total tangible direct and indirect costs of excess alcohol consumption in LAC in 2017 was over $11 billion.

Healthcare Costs: Healthcare costs for treatment of alcohol-attributable conditions were $1.3 billion for LAC in 2017.

Lost Productivity Costs: Alcohol-related costs due to premature mortality, impaired productivity at work, home, and while institutionalized, work-related absenteeism, lost work days among crime victims and from incarceration, and reduced productivity related to fetal alcohol syndrome were $8.0 billion for LAC in 2017.

Other Costs: Alcohol-related costs due to criminal justice system, property damage, motor vehicle crashes, fire damage, and fetal alcohol syndrome related special education were $1.9 billion in LAC in 2017.