PATH is a family of agencies working together to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities throughout Southern California. We strive to do this by prioritizing housing while providing customized supportive services for people in need. Our agencies each address the homelessness issue in a different way—supportive services, permanent housing development, support for homeless families, and community engagement—all of which ultimately help the people we serve make it home.
On any given night,
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)Please use this information as a reference for how you can best support people living on the streets in your community.
How many people are homeless in Los Angeles?
The 2011 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count determined that there are 51,340 individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles on any given night, 64% (28,540) of whom go unsheltered--they literally live on the street. The Homeless Count report linked to above contains additional demographic information about Los Angeles' homeless population, if you are interested in learning more about the people who experience homelessness in L.A. County.
Why do most people become homeless?
People become homeless for many reasons, including job loss, domestic violence, lack of affordable housing, under-employment, health issues, substance abuse, natural disasters, and more. Each person has a unique life history and unique issues that have contributed to their current situation.
Is it safe to talk to a homeless person?
Each person has a different situation, and a different attitude about their circumstances, that affects their willingness to talk. If the person seems approachable, use eye contact and speak to him or her with respect. Never talk to someone who seems upset, hostile or dangerous. Trust your gut instinct about what is safe and/or welcomed. Also, it is important to maintain safe and appropriate boundaries. Do NOT provide homeless individuals with your personal contact information.
Should I give money to him/her?
No. Giving money to someone living on the streets sustains their lifestyle instead of encouraging them to seek housing and services.
What can I do instead of giving someone money?
If the person is hungry, buy him or her a sandwich instead of giving money. Many homeless advocates keep hygiene kits, packaged snacks, water bottles and/or new socks on-hand in case they encounter someone in need. You can also request PATH cards from our facilities, which contain information about PATH's location and services, to hand out to people you might encounter on the street.
Are all homeless people mentally unstable?
Definitely not. Of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, 33% are living with a mental illness, many of whom are stable when receiving the support and/or medications they need. It is important to move past the stereotype that all homeless people are “crazy” and beyond our help.
Should all homeless people go to Skid Row?Homelessness is a regional issue. It needs to be recognized as such, so that comprehensive services can be provided within each community. We should not rely on our neighbors downtown to solve homelessness for our communities. If there are no service providers available in your community, then look for outside resources.
If you have additional questions for PATH that are not answered here, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.