Raw Data: Homelessness in Los Angeles

Skid row in downtown Los Angeles.Kevin Drum

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I was fiddling around with some numbers about homelessness in Los Angeles and came up with this. Note that the housing index has been adjusted for inflation:

There are reasons to be cautious about interpreting this. The homeless numbers are from HUD’s Point-In-Time program, which is known to be of mediocre accuracy. Even worse, there’s also some evidence that its methodology has changed over the years, which makes annual comparisons a problem. On the housing side, the Case-Shiller index is the average for houses. It doesn’t necessarily say much about either the availability or price of cheap rental stock.

All that said, it’s a pretty remarkable correlation, isn’t it? So I decided to try a few other cities:

None of them fit as nicely as the Los Angeles chart, but they definitely suggest a correlation between housing prices and homelessness. I assume this is no surprise to anyone, but it’s kind of interesting to see it set out like this.

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