A New Way of Life for Former Inmates

Joseph Baddley, 53, became homeless after being in and out of prison. Not having access to medical care, when Baddley became sick, he hit rock bottom. But thanks to a new program to build more supportive housing in Los Angeles County, Baddley has found an apartment to call home. The 43 units, spread over five formerly blighted and foreclosed properties in South Los Angeles, were specifically created for those who were homeless, veterans in need of housing, former inmates re-entering the community, those living with special needs and those with mental health illnesses.

“Many people helped save my life,” said Baddley. “I love my home and I treat it as a gift,” said Baddley.

Recent ribbon cutting for the the Coalition for Responsible Community Development apartments.

The apartments represent the best of what government, the private sector and community organizations can accomplish when they work together. The project was sponsored by the Coalition for Responsible Community Development and involved a successful collaboration among Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles, Los Angeles Housing Department, California Housing Finance Agency and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health among others. The project was completed in August 2013 at a total development cost of $10.5-million. Ten of the 43 units are specifically designed for the visually, physically or mobility impaired.

“CRCD Apartments, with its support from both the City and the County, is a example of permanent supportive housing that works,” said CRCD Executive Director Mark Wilson, noting that residents will be eligible to receive mental health services, regular health care and an array of social services supported with intensive case management.

Former inmate and resident Yolanda Brown. Photo courtesy of CRCD.

For women who have been incarcerated, the apartments offer an especially important place. Many women who are former inmates have trouble finding jobs and housing and end up on the street, where they are often in danger, explained Susan Burton, executive director of A New Way of Life, one of the organizations responsible for the successful re-entry efforts. A New Way of Life supports these residents by providing therapy and legal assistance at court hearings. Many women residents are mothers with children, Burton said. These mothers also receive job training services and assistance with child care.

Resident and former inmate Joseph Baddley tears up while welcoming Supervisor Ridley-Thomas into his new home.

At the recent grand opening of the apartments, Baddley invited a few guests into his home including A New Way of Life Executive Director Susan Burton and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“He invited us into his home, held back his tears best he could and told us his story,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “This is the face of reentry.”

Supporting affordable housing has been a focus for the Supervisor since taking office in 2008. Since 2009, the Supervisor has helped to create 1,100 units in the second district representing a total public/private investment of more than $350-million. And 295 additional units are now under construction representing an additional $121-million.

During his public remarks at the grand opening, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas focused on the economic benefits of supportive housing to the county. He noted that building housing costs far less than incarceration.

“Many talk about redemption, recovery and reentry,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The Coalition for Responsible Community Development is doing it.”


Free Martin Luther King Medical Campus Shuttle

Visitors and patients of the Martin Luther King Medical Campus in Willlowbrook can now ride a free shuttle to get around, courtesy of the County of Los Angeles.

The wheelchair accessible campus shuttle runs from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday with nine stops throughout the campus including the new outpatient center, every 15 minutes.

“We want visitors get to, from and around the medical campus with ease,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has helped fund the services.   “The shuttle service is intended to do just that at no cost.”

It is the latest of three shuttle services now available in Willowbrook, with one ferrying passengers to and from the Rosa Parks Transit Station to the campus.  The other shuttle runs east/west from the Hahn Plaza Shopping Center to 135th Street and San Pedro Street.  The route includes many stops including Athens Park, Magic Jonson Park and Carver Park.

“This shuttle service allows patients and staff to move freely around the campus, from the parking lot to all the campus buildings,” said John Huang, transit manager for Public Works, who will be responsible for making sure the shuttles run smoothly.

For more information about shuttle services in Willowbrook please visit:   Lagobus.info




MLK Hospital Signs 40-Year-Lease with County

MLK Hospital

In yet another milestone, the nonprofit Martin Luther King – Los Angeles Healthcare Corporation (MLK-LA) has signed a 40-year lease with Los Angeles County to run and operate the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

With the lease signed and a more than $170 million-commitment from the County, the hospital, which will be privately run by the non-profit MLK LA Board, will accelerate the pace of acquiring new equipment and hiring doctors, nurses, technicians and other staff.

A few months ago, construction of the new $285 million-hospital was completed by the County, and next month the adjacent $175 million-Outpatient Center will open its doors to the public.  In addition, a new Psychiatric Urgent Care Center for those seeking mental health services is expected open on the MLK campus in the fall.

The hospital, outpatient center, and Psychiatric Urgent Care Center are part of a revitalized wellness network intended to provide residents of the surrounding communities with preventive care services to improve their overall health and avoid hospital visits.

“The County is fulfilling its promise,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who spearheaded the effort to build a new hospital and wellness facilities. “We will be good and vigilant partners. Together we will work to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars while ensuring that visitors to the new hospital and neighboring clinics will receive the highest quality of care.”

St. John’s Well Child Opens New Health Center Campus in South LA

St. John’s Well Child Chief Executive Jim Mangia and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

It used to take Veronica Calbio 30 minutes by bus to get her children, Genesis, 2, and Abraham, 5, for a checkup at the nearest clinic in South Los Angeles. But with the recent opening of a new health center at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center on West 58th Street, a doctor’s visit is now only 10 minutes away from her home.

“It is so much better,” she said, sitting with her children in the waiting room of the Dr. Louis C. Frayser Health Center, “because I don’t have a car I can take the bus and be here faster for the kids’ check-ups and for the dentist. This is a good clinic.”

On the fourth anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act, St. John’s celebrated the grand opening of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Health and Wellness Campus, which includes the Frayser Health Center for children and mothers, and the S. Mark Taper Foundation Health and Wellness Center for adults. The campus, located between Vermont Avenue and Hoover Street, will provide additional services for more than 30,000 patients in some of South Los Angeles’ poorest communities.

The campus is a model of modern day health care delivery that brings the best available resources close to neighborhoods in need. South Los Angeles has among the highest rates of chronic diseases in California and hundreds of thousands of its residents are uninsured; more than a third live in poverty, and health officials estimate that 16 percent of children in South Los Angeles have never been to a dentist, leading to a slew of health issues that manifest as they grow into adults. The impact of Obamacare on this population will be profound: so far, 5.3 million people have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act and with a March 31 deadline looming, it is hoped that more take advantage of it.

“Thousands of newly-insured patients will need healthcare, and thanks to Obamacare we have two beautiful, newly-constructed health centers in the heart of South Los Angeles to provide quality care,” said St. John’s President and CEO Jim Mangia. “This is a promise fulfilled by President Obama.”

President Obama’s senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, attended Monday’s opening and declared it a great example of federal, local elected officials, residents, business leaders and foundations collaborating to accomplish something great. St. Johns Valerie 1

“This day shows what we can accomplish when we work together,” she said.

With $9.4 million allotted, St. John’s is the largest recipient of capital funding from the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles County. The funding, supplemented by major contributors including First 5 and the Ahmanson Foundation, helped fund the construction of 26 new exam rooms, medical and dental services for pediatric patients as well as pre-natal care, expanded services for adults, chronic disease care, a full-scope pharmacy and behavioral health services. The wellness campus houses full-scope diagnostic services including x-ray, mammography and ultra-sound services.

For Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a longtime supporter of St. John’s, the center brings a high level of service to a community in need.

“St. John’s just keeps moving forward to give people in this community a better quality of life,” he said. “This is a matter of justice. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.”

St. John’s Workers to Receive Living Wage

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center has seen a sharp increase in the number of uninsured patients visiting their facilities. These folks, who formerly were uninsured but now, thanks to the ACA have insurance and are finally seeing a doctor. A whopping 40 percent increase in patient visits to the nonprofit health center has challenged everyone from receptionists to medical assistants to benefits counselors and outreach workers to do more work while maintaining excellent service.

So in a rare move in today’s economic climate, St. John’s Chief Executive Jim Mangia, noting that the increased amount of work lead to greater compensation for his employees, has raised their salaries from $12 to $15 an hour, placing the nonprofit squarely in the forefront of the local and national battle to raise the minimum wage.

“The cost for these raises to St. John’s will be significant,” said Mangia. “But we felt strongly as a social justice and health care organization that it was our obligation to raise the living standard for healthcare workers locally and nationwide. We are standing up and throwing down for the $15 wage.”

The announcement, made at a news conference with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price and Bob Schoonover, president SEIU 721, pushes forward the momentum toward raising the minimum wage just as the Los Angeles City Council considers steps that would require large hotels to pay workers a living wage of $15.37 an hour.

“This commitment to provide a living wage proves that when employers and employees work together, the community is lifted. St. John’s is an employer that is leading by example – it is possible to deliver quality healthcare and also provide quality jobs,” said the Supervisor, who represents the district where many of St. John’s centers and clinics are located. “Economic health is tied to physical and mental wellbeing. This wage ensures that the workers who provide care to people that are ill, can provide that care with dignity.”

Indeed, Fabrizzio Perez, who works at St. John’s S. Mark Taper Foundation Health Center as a patient greeter, said he looks forward to the day when healthcare is affordable and available to all, and when full-time workers no longer live in poverty – having to choose between feeding their families or paying the rent.

“A living wage is transformative,” he said. “We want to live in a society where all boats rise with the tide. Our hope is that St. John’s vision spreads across Los Angeles County, the city, the state and finally the entire nation.”

Formerly Homeless Find Affordable Housing

For seven years, Irvin Dixon, 59, had been homeless in Los Angeles County.  He slept on public benches and waited in long lines for free meals.  Sal Tovar, 52, had spent nine years homeless.  He remembers taking “bird baths” in the park to stay clean.  But thanks to a collaboration among the city, county and several community groups, 56 new units that rent for about $50 a month are home to nearly 100 other residents such as Dixon and Tovar.

Addressing an audience assembled recently to mark the opening of the South Los Angeles Supportive Housing Program,  Yolanda Vera, deputy for healthcare services for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, said: “This is an example of blight made right.”

The Department of Health Services Neighborhood Stabilization Project Housing development consists of 15 formerly-blighted properties.  The properties were purchased and remodeled by the City of Los Angeles Housing Department and Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles and are now operated by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.  The project is a collaborative partnership among the city, the county, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Home for Good and the Hilton Foundation.

The new housing is aimed to help those homeless individuals who are most in need and high users of county health resources.

“Providing housing is actually money-saving for the health system,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.  According to Dr. Katz, housing one homeless person costs between $600 to $900 per month whereas hospital time can cost $3,300 per day.  The health services department estimates that the annual cost for inpatient services for homeless patients is roughly $70 million or $30,000 per patient.

The comprehensive project includes mental health services and substance abuse treatment.  Over $12 million in newly renovated housing units were provided by the City of Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department.  $5.4 million in rental subsidies over 10 years was provided by the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles.  $7.2 million over 10 years in health services was provided by the Los Angeles County Departments of Health Services, Mental Health and Public Health.

According to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, “These new units are just the beginning of a revolutionary approach to heal through housing.”

Tovar does not forget his own recent struggles: Once a month he loads a suitcase full of cakes, bread and tortillas and takes it to a food bank to help feed less fortunate homeless people.  He feels compelled to “pay it forward.” Tovar said, “It makes me feel good because I’m able to help them out.”

South L.A. Residents to Receive Life Saving Care Faster

When someone is having a heart attack, time is of the essence; minutes after it stops receiving blood, the heart muscle begins to die causing permanent damage. Eventually, the heart will simply stop. In South Los Angeles, however, the nearest available treatment was more than 10 miles away – and many minutes away to hospitals around the county as far as Torrance or downtown Los Angeles.

No longer.

St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood is now a certified ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (known as STEMI) Center, offering trained cardiologists and immediate treatment for anyone suffering a heart attack.  There are now 34 such centers in LA County, with St. Francis and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center as the other such locations in the Second District.  The new center is particularly important for Los Angeles County, considering that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for residents–with blacks and Latinos suffering the highest rates among all other ethnic groups.

The Catheterization Lab where patients are taken to have any angioplasty procedures and stents placed.

“The heart is a muscle like the brain,” said Adam Garcia, a cardiovascular and radiology technician at St. Francis. “If it doesn’t get fed, it won’t do well. And so that is why we have to take care of the problem as fast as possible.”

Within minutes at St. Francis, trained staff can stabilize a patient, insert a stent in a blocked artery or perform surgery. The STEMI Center compliments The Heart Center at St. Francis Medical Center, which has a full-time staff of cardiologists, specialty trained nurses, surgeons and technicians who offer a full range of heart care services. Quick treatment can not only save lives, but also reduce the risk of long-term heart damage and prevent life-threatening complications.

“We needed to provide this care and so this is super exciting,” said Dr. Michael Stephen, Chief of Staff, St. Francis Medical Center.

Added Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who attended the launch of the new center: “The residents of South Los Angeles deserve access to high-quality services in their community and the opening of this new receiving center does just that.  Lives will be improved and even saved because of what is happening today.”

Healthcare Trailblazers to be honored with Women of the Year Award

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is pleased to announce his selection of Martin Luther King Community Health Foundation Board Chair Linda Griego and Board Member Candace Bond McKeever as the Second Supervisorial District’s Women of the Year; both women are being honored for their outstanding work as advocates for better healthcare, their philanthropy and community service.

Griego and Bond McKeever were chosen by the Supervisor for their vision and guidance on the MLK Community Health Foundation board. As members of the board, Griego and Bond McKeever play a crucial role in building a deep base of support for the new MLK Community Hospital. In January, Griego and Bond McKeever were instrumental in raising more than $600,000 for the new hospital at the Building the Dream Luncheon held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. The new hospital, scheduled to open next year, will offer state of the art medical services and wellness and preventative health programs.

Griego and Bond McKeever will join six other honorees, selected by the other members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at the 29th Annual Women of the Year Awards Luncheon, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women on March 10.

Griego plans to dedicate her award to her grandmother, who raised her, and who she said instilled in her a strong sense of entrepreneurship and work ethic and who taught her the importance of helping others.

Aside from leading the MLK Community Health Foundation Board, Griego has spent the last 28 years as president and chief executive office of Griego Enterprises, Inc., a business management company. Griego was also Interim President and CEO of the Los Angeles Community Development Bank, Los Angeles director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and President and CEO of Rebuild LA, Inc. She has also served on a slew of nonprofits, including the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the California Community Foundation.

“It is an extraordinary honor to be one of the recipients of the Woman of the Year Awards,” said Griego. “It means a great deal to me that Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has recognized my community advocacy work, social entrepreneurship and life-long dedication to improving the quality of the life of women and girls in Los Angeles County.”

Bond McKeever shares Griego’s passion for community outreach. She is the current president of Strategic Solutions Group, which specializes in strategic planning, business and nonprofit development. She is a member of President Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts, a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a board member on both the California Science Center and the National Medical Fellowship.

“I consider myself privileged to be included among these outstanding women who are making a huge difference in the lives of women every day,” said Bond McKeever. “Whether it is improving access to health care, education or advancing economic and social equality, these women are responsible for catalyzing the lives for all LA County residents through the empowerment of women.”

The Los Angeles County Commission for Women is dedicated to ensuring that all women are treated equally regardless of race, ethnic and social backgrounds, religious convictions, sexual orientation and social circumstances. The Commission champions many causes including employment, gender equality, healthcare, ending violence against women and supporting legislation that positively impacts the lives of women.

“Linda Griego and Candace Bond McKeever are tireless in their efforts to help make Los Angeles a better place,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I commend them and this year’s other honorees not just for their efforts, but for their successes in making a difference in the lives of many and for their strong leadership in bringing quality healthcare for all.”

Affordable Care Act Forum to Clarify Obamacare

On Thursday, March 6, families, residents, community leaders and health service providers will gather at Jesse Owens Park in South Los Angeles to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, and how it can benefit families across the Second Supervisorial District. The forum comes one week before the next enrollment deadline of March 15. According to Covered California, residents who enroll by March 15 are eligible for coverage beginning April 1.

On February 19, the California Department of Health Care Services announced that more than 1.6 million California residents have had (one tense per sentence) signed up for either Covered California health insurance plans or for low-cost or no-cost Medical as of January 31. The same announcement concludes that, currently, African Americans have among the lowest rate of enrollment in California.

Some months back, we took to the streets to ask you for your thoughts about Obamacare. The resulting video is posted below and highlights your thoughts:

While some were excited about Obamacare and others had concerns, one theme became clear – more information is necessary.

“Many people, understandably, have been a bit confused about the Affordable Care Act,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “But forums like these help to dissolve myths and explain the benefits Obamacare can deliver.”

The March 6 forum is the next in a series of Second District Obamacare forums that began last year. A half-hour video from the first forum on December 5, 2013 is provided below:

The Affordable Care Act has the opportunity to be a lifeline for 1.7 million uninsured people in Los Angeles County. In fact, according to some studies, the Affordable Care Act can help 7 out of every 10 uninsured people in the county.

Join us on March 6 to find out if you or someone you know might benefit from the healthcare coverage under the ACA.

Click here to download a flyer for the March 6, 2014 Affordable Care Act Forum.

Can Housing L.A. County’s Homeless Families Save Money?

In Los Angeles County, 7,391 families struggle nightly to find a way to survive without shelter. In 2010, several agencies began to develop a regional approach to providing not just housing, but supportive services and need-based assistance to better help homeless families regain stability. In some cases, mental health and substance abuse services, or housing assistance made the difference.

The Family Solutions Centers started last March with $3.7 million in city and county funding, with the goal of rapidly rehousing homeless households and offering centers throughout Los Angeles County where homeless can go to have problems professionally assessed. To date, there are seven lead agencies that host Family Solution Centers in six of the eight service planning areas in Los Angeles County. These Family Solutions can direct families to health services, employment assistance services, rental assistance or emergency housing. And the program has already proven to be successful, having seen 1,542 families between March and December. Three hundred and two of those families were able to avoid homelessness, 305 were placed in interim housing, and 417 were provided permanent housing.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $10.2 million to set up more Family Solution Centers to offer more services. An additional $2.4 million is also being considered for mental health services. The centers will extend to at least eight agencies and promises to service all eight service planning areas in Los Angeles County. The services will be expanded to include social service case managers and substance abuse treatment. The expanded program will promote collaboration between public agencies and homeless service providers and be called the Homeless Family Solutions System. The system also includes the collection of data to assess which programs are working and to track long term success with families.

“Families are the core of our community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “And today we have the opportunity to improve the way we deliver services to those families most in need.”

Christine Mirasy-Glasco, executive director of Upward Bound House, a community-based social service agency, testified before Board of Supervisors Tuesday in support of expanding Family Solutions Centers. The centers, she said, have streamlined the process of getting help for families. “Families used to have to travel around the entire county every day looking for services,” Mirasy-Glasco said. “This changes all of that.”

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that 85 percent of homeless people in Philadelphia who were given housing and support were still in housing two years later and were unlikely to become homeless again.
Research shows that people spend less time in expensive emergency rooms and hospital beds when they have housing. Children are able to attend school and do homework when they have a warm home, a bed to sleep in and a sturdy table to write on.

“It is a proven program. It works. And it’s been evaluated,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added, “Without question, supporting homeless families with services and housing saves money in the long run. It simply costs less to serve and house than it does to ignore. It’s an investment in our future.”

Click here for more information about Family Service Centers.