A birds-eye view of Ventura County, CA with the city buildings in the foreground and the ocean in the background.

County Leaders in Ventura Move from Homelessness Response to Prevention

Public Sector Solutions, Homelessness

IMPACT

Determining the costs of homelessness in Ventura County, California to optimize the use of public resources

$2.2M

The analysis helped Ventura County win a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice

In 2019, homelessness was on the rise in Ventura County, California. Seeking to better understand the problem, county leaders, in partnership with the Cities of Oxnard and Ventura, turned to Social Finance.

Our team dove into the problem by integrating cost data from over a dozen county and city departments, seeking to measure the dollars and cents associated with homelessness—with the hopes that our findings might inform future discussions about using public funding to prevent, rather than address, homelessness in the county.

After determining that service use is often concentrated disproportionately among a relative minority of people experiencing persistent homelessness, we developed a method to estimate the service use and costs of the top quartile of people who are very likely experiencing homelessness and are frequent users of emergency services. We found that services for this high-utilizing population cost the county $5-8 million per year, with an average per-person annual expenditure of $37,500-$57,000.

This analysis was eye-opening for county leaders, who committed to fund more homelessness services moving forward.

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