County Supervisors to Vote on Predictive Analytics to Curb Homelessness

A homeless man sleeps below the entrance to the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Chris Stone
A homeless man sleeps below the entrance to the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Chris Stone
A homeless man sleeps below the entrance to the Ocean Beach Pier. Photo by Chris Stone

County officials Monday unveiled a proposed analytics policy to help prevent homelessness, along with an app-based tool that helps county employees connect unsheltered people to services.

Nathan Fletcher, Board of Supervisors chairman, has proposed developing a comprehensive integrated data system that allows county employees to evaluate if a person is at risk of becoming homeless and offer support to keep them housed.

“We have to use every opportunity and technology available to prevent homelessness and get people who are currently on the street into housing,” Fletcher said during a Monday news conference.

Fletcher’s proposal is on Tuesday’s regular board meeting agenda, and also calls for creating a homeless prevention unit within the Office of Homelessness Solutions to conduct direct outreach to individuals.

If supervisors vote yes, the county’s chief administrative officer will have 180 days to develop an analytics plan, which will also need board approval.

According to Fletcher’s office, Los Angeles County government in 2020 also approved using predictive analysis to prevent homelessness.

Using data from eight L.A. County agencies, outreach workers focused their attention on people and families at greatest risk of losing their homes, and offered help.

Tamera Kohler, CEO of the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness, said it’s difficult to determine who will become homeless, “but by using predictive analytics to pinpoint who may become homeless and intervene before someone’s on the street, we all benefit — especially the person who will never end up without a roof over their head.”

“This is a project we’ve supported since the initial conversations began because we know how important preventing people from becoming homeless is,” Kohler added.

Barbara Jimenez, community operations officer with the San Diego Department of Homeless Solutions, said the county has just started using a new app-based technology developed by RevTech and called the HSEC Outreach App.

The app will let 60 additional county employees — including park rangers and librarians — more effectively connect homeless people with services.

Along with streamlining referrals, the app will provide HSEC teams with better real-time tracking of encampments, allowing for a quicker response, Fletcher’s office said.

Employees who at times encounter homeless people can access the HSEC App through their phone, laptop or work computer, according to Fletcher’s office.

The app allows them to send a referral to the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities, requesting that HSEC staff contact the homeless person and provide services. Basic information includes the homeless person’s name, a description and additional information.

HSEC staff “triage” the referral and then assign it to an appropriate team member, who could respond the same day depending on the time of referral and submitted information, Fletcher’s office said.

City News Service contributed to this article.