An Analysis of People Using Vehicles as Shelter and the Regulatory Response in Los Angeles County

Research Team: Madeline Brozen (Lead) and Evelyn Blumenberg

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Homelessness rates in California are at their highest level in over ten years. Few scholars have studied the large and growing numbers of people who live in their vehicles. According to point-in-time count data from the 2019 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, over 40 percent of the unsheltered homeless population in Los Angeles County, some 14,000 people, rely on vehicles for shelter. The increase in people living in their vehicles raises challenges for both people who are experiencing homelessness and for cities.

Project Description: This research project will examine the extent to which the homeless population are living in their vehicles in Los Angeles County from two perspectives. First, from the perspective of people living in vehicles. Second, from the perspective of cities that are actively seeking ways to address homelessness through various regulations, programs, and partnerships. To do this, the researchers will (i) quantify changes in the use of vehicles as housing over time and characteristics of households that live in their vehicles; (ii) quantify point-in-time count data by census tract from 2015 - 2019 to analyze the location of vehicles used as housing over time and by vehicle type (e.g., cars, vans versus RVs); (iii) assemble and analyze regulations related to people living in their vehicles; and (iv) interview stakeholders in Los Angeles County to better understand their perspective on the issue and how their organizations have responded to this growing population group.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $40,000

Project Partner(s): California Department of Housing and Community Development