As Los Angeles homelessness response increases, so do calls about tent encampments

City records more than 72,000 MyLA311 reports in 2023
City Life

Illustration of homelessness in Los Angeles


Many people believe the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles is worsening. Although results from the 2024 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count will not be released for several months, one data stream shows that more people are speaking up about the situation on the streets.


In 2023, the city’s MyLA311 system fielded 72,351 calls about encampments, according to publicly available service request data. That represents a 20% increase from the approximately 60,000 calls the year before. In 2018 the count was below 40,000.


Bar chart of annual MyLA311 homeless encampment calls in the city of Los Angeles from 2017-2023


It is difficult to know if this reflects a situation growing more dire, or rather people are calling because more high-level attention has been focused on the matter. Since taking office in late 2022, Mayor Karen Bass has dedicated significant resources to addressing homelessness, everything from expediting approvals for low-income housing projects, to the Inside Safe initiative, in which people in some large tent encampments are moved into hotels or motels, with the aim of eventually transitioning them to permanent units.


According to the mayor’s office, more than 21,000 people were housed in her first year in office. The nearly 40 Inside Safe operations alone have gotten more than 2,000 people into temporary residences.


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Homeless encampment reports are made in a variety of ways. Some people call 311. Others use a mobile app or website.


As many Angelenos can attest, a call does not necessarily result in an immediate visible response. The city and county governments have a multifaceted approach that can involve outreach workers who show up multiple times at encampments in the effort to build trust with people experiencing homelessness and connect them with support services. Other times, calls may prompt a street cleaning that requires the temporary removal of tents.


Summer spike

An examination of homeless encampment calls in recent years reveals a pattern: a spike in complaints in the late summer and early fall, followed by a decline in the winter. That was the case again in 2023: The peak was the 7,755 reports tabulated in August. In December the count was 5,600.


Line chart of monthly homeless encampment calls in the city of Los Angeles from 2019-2023


Encampments exist in virtually every neighborhood in the city, though MyLA311 reports do not necessarily correspond to where the greatest number of unhoused individuals are located. Although Downtown is the epicenter of the crisis and includes Skid Row, the community last year registered 2,859 reports, the fifth-highest count in the city.


The greatest number of complaints in 2023 was the 5,009 calls in Westlake. The second-highest count was in North Hollywood.


Table of neighborhoods with the most homelessness encampment complaints in 2023.


A full 25% of the reports in Westlake—1,252 in total—occurred in October. An analysis of MyLA311 data shows that more than 700 calls that month were made regarding encampments in and around MacArthur Park.


Rhondaya Fishburne, a spokesperson for Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, whose District 1 includes Westlake, noted the district includes several communities that are among the “most underserved” in Los Angeles.


“Our office assesses every encampment that is brought to our attention via 311, call or email—and addresses each one accordingly,” Fishburne said via email. “When available, we offer housing services to our unhoused constituents. However, as there is not enough resources for all those who want to come inside, we also deploy cleanup teams and sanitation crews five days a week to help maintain clean and passable sidewalks.”


She added that the office also directs healthcare and outreach to homeless individuals through partnerships with the USC Street Medicine team and organizations such as PATH.


The roster of most-impacted communities can change. In 2022, the highest number of homeless encampment requests was recorded in North Hollywood. The next-highest counts that year were in Hollywood and Westlake.


In 2021, Hollywood had the most calls, followed by Koreatown. Westlake ranked eighth that year.


How we did it: We examined publicly available MyLA311 service request data about homeless encampment calls from Jan. 1, 2016–Dec. 21, 2023. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here


MyLA311 service data only reflects reports made to the city of Los Angeles, not how many actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the city makes publicly available. Past reports may be updated with new information. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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