The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Tuesday released guidance for service providers performing outreach to street encampments.

The guidance notes five key principles:

— provide ample time to engage with people living in the encampment during this important transition;

— ensure voluntary, client-centered, and trauma-informed care;

— provide adequate, appropriate, and low-barrier resources;

— identify an experienced service partner with deep ties to the community and let them lead; and

— establish strong team coordination.

The Best Practices For Addressing Street Encampments report is meant to offer guidance on balancing the need for location-specific outreach and the importance of a regional, trauma-informed approach to tackling the homelessness crisis and matching people with a stable, permanent home.

LAHSA warned that not following best practices can have unintended consequences, including:

— the same people may return to the site of the encampment or disperse into the nearby community within a few days or weeks of receiving shelter;

— taking away critical resources from other vulnerable unhoused people in the region to focus on one encampment does not prioritize regional resources for the most in-need; and

— under-planned encampment operations can retraumatize people who have already undergone considerable physical and mental suffering.

The report was created with information from case studies from El Sereno, Venice and Globe, the Sepulveda Recreation Center, and the Encampment-to-Home program.

LAHSA also added guidance from the Paxton-Bradly encampment relocation, an Arnold Ventures report on addressing unsheltered homelessness, and the United Way’s Home for Good Street Strategy.

“We have a choice — we can learn and help, or we can repeat and fail,” said Eric Ares, Manager, Homeless Systems Change at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

“We can put alignment and resources behind the tools and abilities we have to meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors and get people on a path to permanent housing, or we can refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past and use enforcement to scatter and retraumatize people,”

The full report is available at bit.ly/3x5RUu7.

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