This policy brief was developed with the intention to promote workforce retention and strengthen the homeless services sector in Los Angeles County. We would like to thank our partners:

Alisa Orduña, City of Santa Monica

Antioch University Los Angeles

Downtown Women’s Center


Homeless Health Care Los Angeles

Jerry Jones, Inner City Law

St. Joseph’s Center

Union Station Homeless Services


Without your support, these efforts would not have been possible.


Homeless Services Sector
Los Angeles County

More than ever, the retention of social service workers is paramount in solving the homeless crisis. Without human labor, organizations cannot function. Strategic planning efforts are required in order to build a robust workforce. A study of six homeless service organizations, completed in the winter of 2017, found the following:

  • Workers are deeply invested in working in homeless services; 92% reported having a long-term commitment to working in homeless services.
  • Average job tenure of frontline workers is two years, with women making up 70% of the workforce.
  • 85% of workers have experienced trauma in their lifetime.
  • For many workers, a lack of trust, communication, and leadership impact their ability to work effectively.
  • The systems of program development in homeless service agencies contain various methods in which workers’ input are not included. Approximately 70% of employees would like to be viewed as being part of shaping how their work is done.
  • Workers face requirements of extensive service documentation. More than half (62%) of frontline workers do not feel equipped to meet compliance demands.
  • When workers receive their paycheck, they are upset with earnings. Roughly 46% report not making a livable wage.

This study provides a focus on workers and serves to highlight issues with the intention to increase workforce retention, strengthen services, and enhance worker-client relationships. The objective is to provide evidence that supports policy recommendations to build a sustainable workforce. Policy recommendations serve to provide solutions for workforce recruitment, cultivation, and retention in the field of homeless services.

Click link for policy brief: ​Urban Solutions for Developing a Sustainable Workforce in the Homeless Services Sector of Los Angeles County

For more information about the research, please email Vanessa Rios at

Frontline Workers Homeless Services Sector | Policy Campaign Video

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Housing Works California

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