From healthcare to public safety, Orange County’s homelessness problem can cost cities millions of dollars each year. These costs can stand in the way of more impactful policies to assist the homeless.

However, a new study, led by the University of California, Irvine and in partnership with the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC), seeks to quantify local government costs to pave the way for more permanent solutions.

The study’s additional partners include Orange County United Way, Jamboree Housing, 2-1-1 OC and the Southern California Hospital Association.

“At UCI, we hope this study, conducted with the support of OC United Way, Jamboree Housing, ACC-OC, and 2-1-1 OC, will serve as a guiding document to help OC cities move forward in finding solutions to homelessness,” said Dr. David A. Snow with the School of Social Sciences at UCI, who is leading the study at the university. “No comprehensive, county-wide research currently exists on the cost of homelessness by our local communities, and we look forward to breaking new ground and providing a solid empirical base for forging policy solutions to the ongoing problem.”

The study will analyze a comprehensive set of costs and services provided to the homeless population by cities, agencies, and hospitals. This includes emergency health care services, public safety, administrative services, parks and recreation, mental health services, and a number of other elements along the continuum of care. The report is expected to quantify a previously unknown cost of caring for the homeless in our County.

ACC-OC is assisting UCI in gaining an understanding of current city costs.

“Cities are compassionate and concerned about our homeless populations, but limited resources can stretch our ability to properly address this issue,” said Heather Stratman, CEO of the ACC-OC. “This study will help us quantify the problem so we can then seek the appropriate solution. It’s truly a first of its kind for Orange County.”

The data will help local leaders understand the true cost of homelessness in their respective cities, allowing them to craft and budget out locally driven plans that fit the unique needs of each city. The study is one that experts believe will finally bring about permanent, informed solutions.

In addition to information provided by cities, UCI will interview a random sampling of 300 homeless citizens. Orange County hospitals have also been asked to provide information on health and emergency care services for homeless populations. The research is expected to be completed by next year.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

About the ACC-OC: The Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that serves as the hub for good public policy and a strong voice for Orange County’s cities. Comprised of members representing both the public and private sectors, ACC-OC is committed to protecting local control and revenues while offering a vast array of benefits and resources for city staff and elected representatives. Learn more at


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