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Analyzing the Costs of Homelessness in Ventura County, California

Public Sector Solutions, Homelessness

Highlights

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

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County and city departments worked with Social Finance

In 2019, homelessness was on the rise in Ventura County, CA. Seeking to better understand the problem, county leaders, in partnership with the Cities of Oxnard and Ventura, turned to Social Finance. Social Finance partnered with public officials to analyze public service usage data linked to persistent homelessness, examine existing costs, and track overlaps between homeless programs, law enforcement, and emergency/health services—with the hopes of informing future discussions about the most effective use of public funding to end homelessness.

The analysis was used to design a supportive housing proposal and helped Ventura County win a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and earn a finalist spot for a $3 million award from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It was also eye-opening for county leaders, who committed increased resources to fund preventative homelessness services, rather than just responsive ones, moving forward.

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Impact Story

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

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

To meaningfully address persistent homelessness, we have to first understand its human and economic costs. Social Finance helped us do that in Ventura County, collecting and contextualizing key data to help us inform future discussions on ending homelessness.

Christy Madden

HUD Program Manager, Ventura County, California

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