Relatively Young, LGBTQ, Victims of Violence: Characteristics of WeHo’s Homeless Population

Homeless people in West Hollywood are more likely than those in greater Los Angeles to identify as transgender, to be male rather than female, to identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, to suffer from HIV/AIDS and to have experienced domestic violence.

Those are among the findings of a detailed survey conducted by the city’s social service providers earlier this year. The survey involved interviews with 60 homeless people across all seven census tracts in WeHo. That is more than half the 100 homeless people identified in the annual homeless count in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). The data from the greater Los Angeles area does not include Glendale, Long Beach or Pasadena, which do not participate in the annual countywide survey.

Information from the survey will be used by the city’s homeless service providers to guide their work as well as being used to implement aspects of a five-year plan to address homelessness adopted by the City Council in June.

Details from the survey are as follows:

Age of the Homeless

“People who are homeless in West Hollywood continue to be younger than the population of homeless individuals in the (county),” says a report on the survey. “The average age of people who are homeless in West Hollywood is 44.70. Five percent of those surveyed were between 18 and 24 years old, 71.67% were 24- 54, 13.33% were ages 55-61 and 10% were 62 or older. In comparison, 59% of those surveyed by LAHSA in 2018 were 24-54 and 16% were 55-61. An equal percentage (10%) of respondents in both West Hollywood and the LAHSA CoC were 62 or older.

Race and Ethnicity

“West Hollywood has higher rates of white, black or African-American, and multi-racial respondents compared to the (county survey),” the report says.

Of those homeless people surveyed in West Hollywood 41.67% identified themselves as white compared to a 25% of those in the countywide survey. Other comparisons included identification as Latino/Hispanic (21.67% of WeHo homeless surveyed versus 35% of countywide respondents), identification as African-American or black (51.67% of West Hollywood homeless surveyed versus 35% of those countywide) and multi-racial (21.67% of those survey in WeHo versus 1% of those surveyed countywide).

Sexual Orientation

“Forty percent of people who are homeless in West Hollywood identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and an additional 3.33% were unsure or questioning.,” says the survey report. “In the Los Angeles (county survey), only 6% of respondents identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual.”
Gender

“Individuals surveyed by West Hollywood were significantly more likely to identify as transgender (8.3%) than among the (countywide) respondents (2%),” the survey report says. “Among 2018 respondents, 73% of West Hollywood respondents identified as male, and 21.7% identified as female. Five percent of West Hollywood respondents said they were gender non-conforming. This compares to the (county) response, which was 67% male, 31% female, and 0.4% gender non-conforming.

History of Violence or Abuse

“Respondents in West Hollywood’s survey continue to have a higher rate of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse in their lifetimes than those in the Los Angeles (county survey),” the survey report says. “Among West Hollywood 2018 respondents, 48.33% reported having experienced interpersonal violence, compared with 30.0% in the Los Angeles … survey. Of those with a history of violence or abuse, 65.5% of respondents had experienced multiple forms of violence and abuse.

“In 2017, 38.6% of West Hollywood respondents reported a history of violence or abuse, and of those, 58.8% had experienced multiple forms of violence and abuse. In 2018, half of men who are homeless in West Hollywood (50%) reported experiencing violence or abuse, as did 38.5% of women, and 66.7% of gender non-conforming respondents. Of those who reported a history of violence or abuse, 48.3% of West Hollywood respondents identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In comparison, the 2017 (countywide) survey reported that 85% of people reporting a history of violence or abuse identified as straight.”

Chronic Homelessness

The majority of those surveyed in West Hollywood (61 .67%) said they meet the definition of “chronically homelessness.” The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines chronic homelessness as having a disabling condition and either being continuously homeless for one year or more or being homeless at least four times in the past three years. The report on the survey says that percentage is about the same as last year in West Hollywood and almost twice the percentage of those defined as chronically homeless in greater Los Angeles.

Reasons for Homelessness

“The 2018 West Hollywood respondents reported significant increases in unemployment or financial reasons, uninhabitable living conditions and eviction or foreclosure as reasons for their homelessness,” the report says. “Medical reasons, physical disability, and illness were reported less frequently in 2018 than in 2017. Other reasons, including conflicts with family or household members, having no friends or family available, kicked out of home due to sexual orientation or gender identification, aged out of foster care, problematic substance use, or disability remained similar in 2018 compared to 2017. These indicators align with the age, sexual orientation, and gender identity factors in the West Hollywood homeless population and may also reflect the emphasis … on prioritizing available housing for individuals with disabling illness and related costs to the public health system.”

Self-Reported Health Conditions

This year’s survey showed a major decline in the percentage of homeless people who said they had an HIV-related illness. The percentage was 8.33% compared to 18.20% in last year’s survey. In 2017 the countywide survey found 1.6% of homeless people reported an HIV-related illness. The report on the survey said this year’s decline came “after the city made an investment in HIV-specific street outreach, and continued implementation of its HIV Zero initiative.”

However, there were major increases in the percentage of homeless people in West Hollywood reporting a serious and continuing mental illness (46.66% in 2018 compared to 25% in 2017.) “Those reporting problematic drug use also increased from 11.4% in 2017 to 30% in 2018,” the report said. “Self-reported physical disability, physical illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and developmental disability did not change significantly between 2017 and 2018.”

Sex Trafficking

In West Hollywood this year, three respondents said that they had performed sex work and someone else took the money, the report said. “In 2017, five individuals indicated that they had performed sex work and did not receive the money themselves. Because of the difference in the way the questions were asked, conclusion from this data cannot be accurately or fully drawn.”

Legal Issues

In this year’s survey, 73% of the homeless people interviewed said they had been involved with the legal system, which included being in jail, prison or juvenile detention, being probation or parole or in foster care. That is a slightly largely percentage than the 68.2% who reported that in 2017.

Veteran Status and Pets

Only three of the 60 West Hollywood homeless people interviewed reported having served on active duty in the military, or in the reserve or National Guard. None of those interviewed had pets, compared to two in 2017.


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Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

Someone out there, PLEASE enumerate what the City has done or is doing for the homeless that provides immediate relief to them. To Enumerate (verb): “To list items individually; to name a number of things in a list one by one, to count how many things there are in something” So far the only things that I have heard of from the City and directly from the homeless are meetings and committees to talk about the homeless, but nothing “on the ground”, in person with the homeless has been directly identified. Do you have the dates that things where done,… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

Cy,

With all due respect, that is like Trump saying: “yes but look at what others have done” we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other communities. We should be the Frontrunners in providing services.

Again, I ask. what has West Hollywood specifically done for the homeless other than talk about it? How has the City helped the homeless at ground zero. Talk is cheap.

Cy Husain
Guest

Well there is the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation that has provided low income affordable housing for disabled people who were homeless. YES they do NOT have the means to help all those or even a very significant percentage of those in need of housing, but they are an example of something good being done to help the problem of homelessness. Not to dodge a valid point you made but, it might be far more constructive to focus on what WE can do to solve the problem as opposed to finding blame for past failures. Study finds rampant discrimination by… Read more »

Jim Nasium
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Jim Nasium

What category would the guy riding the shopping cart fall under?

Cy Husain
Guest

Let’s see, people dressed up in exotic costumes attracting as much attention as possible riding around in shopping carts all over the place? West Hollywood!

JJ
Guest
JJ

I thought that was ironic too.. Talking about homeless gay youth and the image they use for the article is a person that is well known in the area to have some mental issues. I can’t speak for his sexuality but he certainly is no youth. The image is more accurate of what we see walking our streets than the article’s headline.

JJ
Guest
JJ

I’m sorry but every time these reports come out my neighbors and I are dumfounded. 90% of the homeless we see in and around our neighborhoods are not there because of “unemployment or financial reasons, uninhabitable living conditions and eviction or foreclosure.” They are drunks, drug users are people with mental issues. Coming out as gay, lesbian, bi or trans was difficult 20+ years ago (and the decades prior) when I came out and ever since than society has become more and more accepting and we didn’t have the amount of gay homeless that is now being reported. We keep… Read more »

nate
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nate

Nicely said. I 100% agree with this.

Cy Husain
Guest

WOW you managed to characterize 90% of the homeless with results that contradict any and all studies in the area? Really? Please publish your results and share your research methods! 🙃

carleton cronin
Guest

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddles masses…..the wretched refuse of your teeming (cities)…..Send these, the homeless tempest-tossed to me…” And then we’ll let them wander around, getting into trouble, vexing our elected officials, angering our police and ignored (as much as possible) by the citizens. … Emma Lazarus’s words on the Stature of Liberty once defined the country’s view of its place in the world. Long forgot and now buries under rhetoric in Washington we are ill-served in these matters by those we have chosen to manage our civic affairs. Any remedy to the plight of the homeless… Read more »

Joshua88
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Joshua88

Well said.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

yes but West Hollywood doesn’t care about the homeless, even if they are one of us. We are known worldwide for this. I hear it everywhere I go.

jimmy palmieri
Guest

Mr. Schmidt
As second senior Human Services Commissioner, I find your response to this, dumbfounding. For someone to blurt out untruths, simply to get blogspace is a clear sign of not being informed and not caring to actually research before they speak. Sadly, I have never seen you at an HSC meeting, to even try to understand exactly what we do to assist the most vulnerable. Making false statements helps no one, particularly those that we serve.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

You do nothing for the homeless, please make a list of the people you have helped or the services you provide to the homeless. If you’re white and can afford the high rent in weho, you are welcome here. If not, you are considered garbage. I would love to meet you in person to discuss this matter like gentlemen.

jimmy palmieri
Guest

You may meet any of us every second Tuesday at 6 pm in city hall, just as thousands of others have over the years. DO NOT EVER SAY THAT I DO NOTHING FOR THE HOMELESS Mr. Schmidt. AGAIN DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE MAKING FALSE ACCUSATIONS. My record speaks for itself. I guess, as does yours.

Cy Husain
Guest

I hope that BOTH of you guys take a few steps back and realize that you both have some very valid points to make and, both have the same good intentions! The root of the problem is that the agenda of very powerful right-wing ideologues over rules just about anything in this entire country even if it’s proven to be valid and effective beyond their way of doing things. Case and point, how many times have I made the argument with hyperlinks to proper citations as proof that housing the homeless is directly far LESS costly than letting them just… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

Cy,

Please list what West Hollywood has done or is doing for the homeless. No one can answer that question. West Hollywood has a history of moving the homeless down the road. There needs to be accountability.

Cy Husain
Guest

YES you have a valid point that the city of West Hollywood can and should do more for the homeless! Mind you that West Hollywood has done more than all surrounding cities, where in many instances homeless individuals and even other people considered “undesirables” are forcefully removed by private security and law enforcement. Not dodging your question here: The West Hollywood Homeless Initiative City Council Study Session to Discuss Homelessness Human Rights Speaker Series This included homelessness and relevant issues to its causes such as discrimination. WeHoTV NewsByte: West Hollywood is a Sanctuary City West Hollywood Homeless Services West Hollywood’s… Read more »