California Statewide Study Investigates Causes and Impacts of Homelessness

The Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI) , a program of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, has released the largest representative study of homelessness in the United States since the mid-1990s, providing a comprehensive look at the causes and consequences of homelessness in California and recommending policy changes to shape programs in response.

The California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness (CASPEH) used surveys and in-depth interviews to develop a clear portrait of homelessness in California, where 30% of the nation’s homeless population and half of the unsheltered population live.

The study found that, for most of the participants, the cost of housing had simply become unsustainable. Participants reported a median monthly household income of $960 in the six months prior to their homelessness, and most believed that either rental subsidies or one-time financial help would have prevented their homelessness.

“The results of the study confirm that far too many Californians experience homelessness because they cannot afford housing,” said Margot Kushel, MD, Director, UCSF BHHI and principal investigator of CASPEH. “Through thousands of survey responses and hundreds of in- depth interviews, the study’s findings reflect the incalculable personal costs of homelessness. Our policy recommendations aim to inform solutions to the homelessness crisis.”

To read more about CASPEH, including it’s policy recommendations, please visit the BHHI website