LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles have developed a groundbreaking model that aims to address the city’s homeless crisis by identifying people most in need of help before they fall into homelessness.

The theory is that by reaching out to people and getting them the help they need, homelessness can be prevented.

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“How do you get to people before they experience homelessness,” Janey Rountree said. “Is there a way to intervene with them?”

Rountree, the executive director of the California Policy Lab at UCLA, and her team set out to answer those questions by building a model to predict who is most at risk of becoming homeless in the county in a given year.

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“The research team, which is a partnership between UCLA and the University of Chicago Poverty Lab, thought that this was a case data science could be helpful,” Rountree said. “The research team analyzed many millions of data points provided by Los Angeles public agencies — everything from mental health to social services to substance-abuse treatment, jail and probation.

And Rountree said the model works.

“We were able to produce risk lists that we think are pretty accurate,” she said. “Basically, every other person on the risk list, we’re confident, will experience homelessness within the coming year.”

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Rountree said she expects the county to implement a pilot program based on the model next year with funding from Measure H in hopes that it will lead to a better and more targeted use of the county’s resources.