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Monday, August 21, 2006

How Many Homeless Are There?

As the vote on the so-called "affordable housing" bond approaches, you will hear proponents claim repeatedly that there are 90,000 homeless in Los Angeles County.

Ask them to prove it to you, and if they respond with anything but a blank look, they will tell you a study was performed under the guidance of the L.A. Housing Department.

What they will NOT tell you is who did the counting.

Care to take a guess? That's right: they hired homeless people to do the counting: "Upwards of 850 homeless people were recruited to work by LAHSA staff, homeless service providers, and homeless coalition representatives." (2005 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, p. 82.)

VERY reliable methodology, especially for those seeing double.

It gets worse. Guess how many actual, real-live homeless people these experts claim they counted? Ninety thousand? No, no, no! The actual count was only 19,138. (Ibid., p. 14.)

Where did the other tens of thousands come from? The authors of the study extrapolated the number, having "cherry-picked" the areas of the city containing Skid Row. That's kind of like measuring the sugar in your sugar bowl, and then assuming you have a bowl of sugar in every square foot of your house.

To prepare to spread the "90,000 homeless" lie, the Mayor and Clowncil have already begun practicing with shovels, as shown above. They won't be shoveling sugar.

20 Comments:

Blogger Mitch Glaser said:

Mr. Moore, I'm glad you are finally touching upon the issue of homelessness, since a portion of the "affordable housing" bond is intended to address this problem. As one of the most outspoken opponents of the bond, it's necessary that you critique all its components.

If you disagree with the 90,000 figure and feel that the methodology was flawed, I suggest (or should I say challenge) you to come up with a figure of your own. The only way to effectively counter this research is to do your own. It isn't a lie until you prove it is. Start counting!

August 21, 2006 10:28 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

Great reasoning, Mitch.

You're right, no citizen should ever dare point out flawed methodology in a study conducted by a city agency with a budget of $45 million a year unless that individual taxpayer is prepared to conduct a study of his own.

"The only way to effectively counter this research is to do your own?" Give me a freakin' break! Where do you come up with that?!

You want a number from me? I'll take the 19,000 or so they actually counted as an absolute upper limit.

Now, since you've entered the fray, I have a challenge for you: name every single federal, state, county and city program already in existence to subsidize the rental or purchase of housing by individuals. For bonus points, provide the budget of each.

August 21, 2006 11:09 PM  

Blogger Mitch Glaser said:

Mr. Moore, to put it bluntly, I trust the city agency with a budget of $45/mil. a year more than I trust you. You came out and said the figure was a "lie," and that's a big accusation that you are obligated to refute with some hard numbers of your own.

As I've stated before, I don't like the housing bond either. I never said that there isn't an abundance of federal, state, county, and city programs to subsidize the rental or purchase of housing, so I don't have to prove there is. I know (very intimately) that there is.

For all your talk about bringing more people to the polls and getting them to the polls, all the negativity and criticism you present here only serves to turn off young people like me, the kind of folks you need to support you in 2009. You simply called this study a "lie" without backing it up; that's not leadership, it's irresponsible name-calling.

I stand by my assertion that the only way to validate your position is with some research of your own, not more criticism of well-meaning folks like me. If the 90,000 figure is inaccurate, tell us why. I'm just asking for the same kind of accountability you demand of the City Clowncil.

August 21, 2006 11:28 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

You're of course right to trust completely the conclusion of an agency, and the organizations to which it disburses millions of dollars each year, without even considering the reasoning of someone who has spent 21 years proving and disproving facts in a court of law.

After all, why bother considering the credibility and reliability of 850 alcoholics, drug addicts and schizophrenics when it comes to observing and counting? And surely if there are 300 homeless people in two blocks downtown, it's reasonable to extrapolate that figure county-wide.

Forgive my arrogance in daring to challenge the methodology of these hardworking civil servants and their constituencies, who clearly have no financial state in exaggerating the problem as much as possible.

August 21, 2006 11:36 PM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

I meant to say "stake," not "state."

August 21, 2006 11:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Who Dat in picturrrreee?

Sexxxxxy lady in da back?

She's around 49, 50 yrs

August 22, 2006 12:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

If anything, the 90,000 number is too low.

I know people who worked on the survey, and everyone acknowledged from the outset that it would necessarily be flawed because you're counting a population that moves around a lot, and is not actually sleeping on the street every night.

Having myself conducted and studied social research methods (which in themselves are always consindered flawed and incomplete), I think it was actually a very very good approach. Of course a clod like you could never grasp that kind of nuance.

Besides, if there's no indignant fist shaking, there's nothing to interest you, right?

August 22, 2006 7:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Let's include the LA SLIMES reported falsely that the Central Assoc. was hosing down the homeless people on skid row. How can those lazy ass reporters not have asked people for the true story? All the LA SLIMES do is make up shit and print it.

August 22, 2006 8:15 AM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

Excuse my ignorance, but when exactly did we start basing public policy decisions on studies conducted by the homeless? What's next? Shall we have children conduct a study on the number of monsters? Would you like schizophrenics to plan the next space mission?

I suppose statistics have changed completely since I studied them, but I seem to recall something about selecting "random samples," as opposed to "cherry-picking" data.

But you and Mitch are right: messengers should never report anything negative, and if they do, it's their fault because they are angry fist-shakers.

Obviously we would never want to suggest that the people who ran the study should have conducted a random sample, or hired, say, sober people not suffering from mental illness to survey the number of homeless in a given location.

You apologists crack me up. By your reasoning, if someone hands you a glass of water containing oil, feces and detergent, you'd yell at anyone who points out the contamination, and then you'd say, "well, it's not perfect, but it's the only glass offered, so I'll swallow it."

August 22, 2006 8:19 AM  

Blogger bri said:

Walter,

I think a better, more intellectually respectable approach to refuting the study would be to cite conflicting research and not necessarily conduct your own study.

I don't think it's really effective to say that you have "a hunch it's 19,000."

For example, Alfred Kinsey did his study on male sexuality and found that 10% of the male population had homosexual tendencies. Of course, critics will argue that Kinsey -- an open bisexual in his own right -- had an agenda to serve, that his research methods were scientifically questionable, and that a disproportionate number of his interview subject were prison inmates who resort to homosexuality because of limited options.

Some critics will cite studies conducted by other (often just as biased) researchers who put the number at 1-2%. Some will cite much more recent studies that put the number closer to 4-6%, including research like exit polling data.

The point is, they don't just say Kinsey is wrong and guess based on anectdotal evidence. I'm sure there's some research on LA's homeless population not done by stakeholders like LAHSA (which obviously is on the prowl for more public funding).

August 22, 2006 9:28 AM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

BRI --

Do you know of any legitimate studies of how many homeless there are in L.A.? Me, neither.

Do you even know of any illegitimate studies of that subject, aside from the subject of this posting? Me, neither.

So under those circumstances, you and your fellow posters can continue to rail against an individual citizen for pointing out the defective methodology.

Or, perhaps you could direct that attention towards the people who get paid with our tax dollars to generate such statstics. Perhaps you want to comment on how the agency in charge of housing policy should conduct a valid study, instead of hammering Joe Citizen to do one.

I mean, I'm as civic-minded as the next guy, but I'm not going to commission my own personal census.

Why don't you focus on the policy ramifications of flawed studies, instead of complaining that I should have conducted a study of my own, or should have cited non-existent studies?

Do you not "get" the significance of the fact that a governmental agency is using completely unreliable people to gather and tabulate the information on which multi-billion dollar public policy decisions will be made?

Do you not see the utter absurdity of billion-dollar decisions based on the findings of people with brains scrambled by alcohol, drugs or mental illness?

If you don't "get it," I will assume that you already work in local government, and that you apply your special brand of "reasoning" -- i.e., "Well, it's a flawed study, but it's the only one we have" -- daily.

That's all I'm saying on the subject, at least for today. You either "get it" or you don't, and some of us have to work for a living.

August 22, 2006 9:42 AM  

Blogger Walter Moore said:

P.S. Okay ONE more point.

Mitch, you said you were glad I am "FINALLY touching upon the issue of homelessness." (Emphasis added.)

Mitch, you really should try to get your facts straight. I've addressed the homeless issues for years, including in my mayoral campaign back in 2004. The platform at my website likewise addresses it.

You don't boost your credibility when you just make stuff up, my young friend.

August 22, 2006 9:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Funny thing is a few months ago I heard the number was 3,000!

It's nowhere near 19,000 and you can take that to the bank.

Slimeball Av tried to say that 78% of LAUSD was failing. Well, Laurel Erickson pinned him down on that one and he had to reluctantly retract his statement.

Slimeball AV is a KNOWN liar and why should ANYONE believe ANYTHING HE says. Lying and corruption is in his DNA!!!!!

August 22, 2006 10:06 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

LAUSD BILL CALLED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
State legislative counsel repeats opinion after text amendment
SACRAMENTO - On the eve of a key vote on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school-takeover plan, a new state legal opinion issued Monday reaffirmed that the proposal appears to be unconstitutional even after it was amended to address legal concerns.
The opinion from state Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine echoes a review she issued earlier this summer finding that the Legislature does not have the legal authority to give a mayor control over a school district.

LAUSD is going to file lawsuit and that way even if bill passes it will be tied up in court. So what a waste of time and energy on bullshit when Antonio should have been taking care of the city.

August 22, 2006 10:52 AM  

Blogger Mitch Glaser said:

Mr. Moore, you ommitted the last part of the sentence you quoted. "I'm glad you are finally touching upon the issue of homelessness, since a portion of the 'affordable housing' bond is intended to address this problem.". To clarify, I'm glad you're finally discussing homelessness in the context of the bond. You may have addressed homelessness in 2004, but there was no bond then, right?

You have 21 years experience in proving and disproving facts in a court of law. You call the results of this study a "lie" and claim that all the people participating were either drunk, on drugs, or suffering from mental illness. Do you have proof of any of this?

I doubt a judge wouldn't allow you to call an expert witness (LAHSA) a "liar" who relied on data obtained from drug addicts without PROOF. I won't allow it either.

Your contempt for the public is really starting to shine through. You accused me of "making stuff up" rather than defending your own statements. Maybe you think being arrogant, contemptuous, and mean spirited will get you elected, but I doubt it.

August 22, 2006 11:21 AM  

Blogger bri said:

I know I should avoid this thread, especially since I think Walter is coming unhinged. But doing some additional research, I thought there was some interesting information about "the count."

1. In LA County, the 2005 study found almost 12,000 sheltered homeless. They are easy to find. They are part of programs conducted by legitimate experets. Therefore, it could easily be argued that at least 12,000 of the 98,000 + are countable.

2. Furthermore, there are 18,000 + shelter bed in LA County. Those bed are consistently full. The number is at least 18,000.

3. The 2005 study found that just under 1% of the LA County population is homeless. In previous studies of homelessness in LA Metro area, conducted as early as 1996, the number was always in the range of 1%.

4. Walk down Hollywood Blvd., the Venice Boardwalk, or Skid Row. Using a simple estimate there are clearly several thousand people in those 3 small parts of the city. We are pusing are number well over 20,000.

5. The phenomenon of the Hidden Homeless. The 2005 count found a significant number of people -- thousands -- that are not what you might consider homeless. They are living in garages, their cars, sleeping on friends sofas. But they are homeless nonetheless. They may not be filthy and begging on the streets but they are living in poverty that keeps them from their homes.

Homelessness is a serious quality of life issue in this city for us all. And really, whether there are 25,000 or 75,000 or 250,000 is less of an issue. Our leaders are doing nothing to address the issue.

Now, do I support the housing bond to solve this problem? Absolutely not! Unless the housing bond is going to build mental health facilities and halfway houses it will accomplish nothing more than padding the paychecks of land developers.

And the bleeding heart won't solve this problem. Liberal Democratic council woman Jan Perry has some hard line solutions for the homeless problem in her district. Unfortunately, liberal westsiders and the ACLU keep getting in her way.

Wish Antonio cared nearly as much about this as he did building his record for his gubernatorial run...

August 22, 2006 1:17 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

LMAO!

Sounds like the caller on Air America, who argued that she could tell who the Muslim terrrorists are just by looking at them. "I know a muslim when I see one!"

August 23, 2006 8:47 AM  

Anonymous marie deschamp said:

it's sad how a prosperous America still can't address the problem of homelessness. Not all of these people are illegal aliens. Most aliens do have a place to stay before crossing the border. Skid row is full of people who just don't know what to do with their lives and accept their state as it is even if they have a family living somewhere wishing they were home.

August 24, 2006 1:31 AM  

Anonymous wacko walter said:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 24, 2006 9:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I live a Rv in the valley.I go to a lot of homeless feeding I do not think any body on this blog is homeless and has never met the homeless about the count we living in a office we were never counted . other homeless tell us if the cops find the RV we will be fined and our Rv taken away, We here that if one is living in a car it is $ 800 fine and have the car taken away. Parent can have their children taken away, I do not trust anyone but homeless this is why homeless can census. the homeless. do you know we can also vote

Rv lady

October 06, 2006 10:30 AM  

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