The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to request a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to explain potential discrepancies in its data on homeless people.
In October, the Los Angeles Times reported an analysis of 4,000 questionnaires that found about 76% of homeless people in the city reported being, or were observed to be, affected by mental illness, substance abuse, poor health or a physical disability.
LAHSA’s data for 2019 showed only 29% of homeless people reported being affected by those issues, according to the City Council motion.
“The UCLA study, which came out around the same time, has an even larger discrepancy,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said. “We need accurate data, knowing that we’ll highlight some of our current system’s deficiencies and inadequacies … in order to mitigate them.”
In the same motion, the council also voted to ask the Los Angeles Police Department to report on the status of its Mental Evaluation Unit and its Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team.
The report is to include information on the LAPD’s current coordination efforts with the Comprehensive Cleaning and Rapid Engagement teams that conduct cleanups at homeless encampments, the MEU’s ability to respond to calls for service, the unit’s overall capabilities and more.
“Right now, the reality is that the police often respond to these calls. That’s the reality we’re working on changing for people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues but (who) pose no threat to the public,” O’Farrell said.
“As a council we can help ensure that the intersection between homelessness and mental and physical health is directly and effectively addressed to the point where we help get people on a path to wellness and long-term permanent housing.”
A timeline for when the reports will come back to the City Council was not immediately clear.