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Improved data required for more shelter beds in city


City Controller conducts audit

Following the release of an audit evaluating interim housing and shelter bed data that found quality issues make it nearly impossible to find available resources, City Controller Kenneth Mejia has reiterated that data entry must be improved to better service the unhoused population.

“Overall, we found that the data is lacking. LAHSA (Los Angeles Housing Services Authority) and its partners, contracted service organizations who operate shelters, do not have a functional or accurate way to track shelter bed occupancy,” Mejia said.

Mejia’s number one recommendation is for LAHSA to reevaluate and redesign its Bed Reservation System, used for tracking bed availability, and do more to monitor and improve the quality of data entered by shelter operators.

According to Mejia, LAHSA’s Bed Availability System is not functional–the agency has spent years attempting to bring it online. The audit showed that LAHSA resorted to using emails and phone calls to communicate bed availability, which the controller said was an “insufficient” method for addressing the city’s homelessness crisis.

The controller noted the issue was apparent last winter when the city experienced an extreme winter weather event.

“As the controller, I cannot require LAHSA or any of the relevant stakeholders to act, but with this information, we can help ensure that existing problems and their causes are understood,” Mejia said.

Sergio Perez, chief of accountability and oversight for the controller, emphasized the audit is not meant to “beat up” on LAHSA and other stakeholders, but rather to help “shine a light” on a potential sets of paths that can be taken to correct the situation and better meet the need on the streets of Los Angeles.

He also noted LAHSA is aware of the audit and the agency assisted the controller in gathering the data.

Two weeks ago, the controller’s office released its first full audit, which highlighted that LAHSA’s data systems are lacking–regarding data entry related to participant enrollments and exits, and bed attendance data.

Additionally, the audit showed that LAHSA did not “follow up” with interim housing providers on their point-in-time sheltered homeless count data despite “red flags” indicating potential data quality issues. Shelters reported low bed utilization rates, meaning that available beds may not be used efficiently.

Mejia’s office also encouraged LAHSA to develop and implement a plan to monitor, evaluate, and enforce its requirements on shelter program operators to enter bed availability and bed attendance data.