The pilot program identifies and assists those who are at high risk of losing their housing. * The program faces challenges and uncertainties, such as the cost, effectiveness, and ethical implications of using AI to intervene in people's lives. * The program aims to reduce the number of newly homeless people in the region, which has been increasing despite billions of dollars being spent.
Homelessness is a complex and persistent problem that affects millions of people around the world. In Los Angeles County, the number of homeless people has risen by 12% in the past year, reaching over 66,000 people. Despite the efforts and resources invested to address this issue, more people are becoming homeless than those who are exiting homelessness. How can this trend be reversed? Is there a way to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place?
USING AI TO PREDICT AND PREVENT HOMELESSNESS
One possible solution is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and help those who are most likely to lose their housing. This is the idea behind a pilot program launched by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) in 2021. The program uses data and machine learning to analyze various factors, such as income, health, and criminal history, to predict who might become homeless and offer them financial assistance and case management. The program is based on the premise that preventing homelessness is more effective and humane than trying to get people off the streets after they become homeless.
HOW AI HELPED A COUPLE FIND STABLE HOUSING
One example of how the program works is the case of Dulce Volantin and Valarie Zayas, a couple who were struggling with mental illness, poverty, and gang involvement. They were living in a motel room with their two children when they received a call from DHS, offering them help to find stable housing. They were surprised and skeptical at first, but they accepted the offer and met with a case manager who helped them apply for subsidized housing and other benefits. Within a few months, they moved into a two-bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood, where they have been living ever since.
HOW TO EVALUATE THE IMPACT AND ETHICS OF AI
The program is not without its challenges and uncertainties. One of them is how to measure its impact and effectiveness. DHS is conducting a randomized controlled trial to compare the outcomes of those who receive the AI intervention with those who do not. The results of the study will be published in 2026³. Another challenge is how to ensure the ethical use of AI and data. Some critics have raised concerns about the privacy and consent of those whose data is used to make predictions and interventions. Others have questioned the fairness and accuracy of the algorithms that determine who gets help and who does not.
HOW AI CAN BE A TOOL FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND COMPASSION
From a Jewish perspective, using AI to prevent homelessness can be seen as a way of fulfilling the moral obligation to intervene and help those who are in danger or distress, especially those who are vulnerable or marginalized in society. Homelessness is not only a physical condition but also a spiritual one, as it deprives people of their dignity and humanity. By using AI to prevent homelessness, we can restore hope and dignity to those who are suffering, and show them that they are not forgotten or abandoned by God or by society.
AI can also be a tool for social justice and compassion, as it can help us address the root causes and structural factors that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, violence, addiction, mental illness, etc. By using data and machine learning, we can identify patterns and trends that reveal the systemic problems that need to be solved, as well as potential solutions that can be implemented.
However, we must also be careful not to rely solely on AI or technology to solve our social problems. We must remember that AI is only a tool, not an end in itself. We must use it wisely and responsibly with respect for human dignity and free will.
Using AI to prevent homelessness is one example of how we can use technology for good purposes in accordance with God's will. By doing so we can help bring Moshiach closer.