Geographic and Regulatory Impacts on Vehicular Homelessness in Los Angeles

Research Team: Madeline Brozen (Lead), Evelyn Blumenberg, and Christopher Giamarino

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: Shelter is a necessity, yet approximately 17 out of every 10,000 people in the United States are unhoused. Public attention to homelessness has centered on individuals sitting and sleeping in public spaces. However, as many as 50% of the unsheltered live in vehicles. For people sleeping in vehicles, finding a safe place to park is an ongoing challenge, further complicated by the growing number of ordinances restricting vehicular dwelling.

Project Description: The authors drew on point-in-time count data from the Los Angeles (CA) Homeless Services Authority to examine spatial patterns of vehicular homelessness in Los Angeles from 2016 to 2020. The researchers tested the relationship between the presence of vehicle regulations and the number of people sleeping in vehicles. Although the data likely underestimated vehicular homelessness, the authors found that ordinances directly reduced the number of people living in vehicles in particular census tracts. On average, cities with citywide and overnight bans had greater impacts on people sleeping in vehicles than cities with less restrictive ordinances. However, the indirect effects in neighboring tracts were stronger and demonstrate the role of these ordinances in simply shifting the vehicular homeless between areas.

Status: Completed

Budget: $40,000

Policy Brief(s):