Homelessness in Los Angeles is a complex problem, involving a confluence of issues and subpopulations with different challenges, needs, and priorities. This Capstone, conducted in cooperation with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Operations Innovation team, intended to create a menu of low-cost high-impact solutions to focus on projects, programs, and services for the unsheltered homeless population. In addition, the team was tasked to suggest ways in which the city could use its public infrastructure to positively affect this population.

The Capstone team focused on understanding the Lot 5 project the City of LA is piloting, which uses trailers on a city-owned parking lot for temporary housing for the homeless. After analyzing the project’s strengths and areas of growth, the team offered a methodology to further expand the program. Specifically, they created an algorithm to filter city-owned properties and determine which properties would be the most optimal to expand the Lot 5 model. The team ran select properties through the algorithm to demonstrate its usability.

If the program expanded, there are opportunities to address certain challenges, including specific needs of subpopulations of the homeless, cost, and scalability issues. It is important that the city views Lot 5 as only one component of a broader and more comprehensive strategy that addresses the underlying causes of homelessness by adopting best practices, lowering the cost of housing, and raising incomes for homeless individuals.