Calling for a Resounding Yes to Housing

All photos by Aurelia VenturA/Board of Supervisors

An estimated 10,000 people took part in the 11th annual HomeWalk, the only 5K family run/walk dedicated to raising public awareness and funds to end homelessness in Los Angeles County.

Organized by the nonprofit United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the event raised more than $1 million, and kicked off the “Yes to Housing” campaign to build public support around potential sites for permanent supportive housing.

“It’s time to say yes to permanent solutions that will get people off the streets and inside, to safety and security,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas told the cheering crowd gathered at Grand Park. “We are going to build housing and rebuild lives all over Los Angeles County.”

“United Way has been leading the fight to end homelessness in L.A. County and we remain deeply committed to continuing that fight until all of our homeless neighbors have a safe and permanent home,” said United Way president and CEO Elise Buik. “It’s time for everyone to say ‘yes’ to housing because while we might have an unprecedented amount of funds to build permanent supportive housing, thanks to Prop HHH and Measure H, we can’t actually build them without everyone’s support.”

This year’s HomeWalk comes on the heels of the passage of Prop HHH and Measure H, which will bring billions for building permanent supportive housing and homeless services. 

Currently, more than 57,000 individuals, families, and veterans are homeless in LA County on any given day.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as other elected and city leaders, also took part in the event, along with LA Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, and actors Jon Huertas Seamus Dever and Cameron Boyce.
 
Over the past ten years, HomeWalk has raised over $7.6 million, which directly helped to bring 18,000 of our homeless neighbors home for good. This year’s HomeWalk raised more than $1 million, thanks in part to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Challenge – which matched every $5,000 a person or team raised with another $5,000.

LA County & City Team Up Against Homelessness

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at the grand opening ceremony for Silver Star Apartments in the Crenshaw area. All photos by David Franco/Board of Supervisors.

Los Angeles county and city officials have reached a key milestone in their partnership to create 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing over the next decade.

Under a newly signed memorandum of understanding with the county, Los Angeles becomes the first city in the region to formally join forces on a framework to increase permanent supportive housing — a proven approach that combines housing subsidies with essential services and healthcare to help chronically homeless individuals and families stay housed.

Los Angeles County and City officials sign a memorandum of agreement to collaborate in the fight against homelessness.

Under the agreement, the County will provide intensive case management and health services to residents of permanent supportive housing units to be built in the city of Los Angeles. Discussions are underway to develop similar agreements with cities throughout the county.

“We are not just building housing, we are rebuilding lives,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This unprecedented agreement will ensure that critical Measure H-funded services from the county will be swiftly provided to help people thrive in the thousands of units that will be constructed by the city under Proposition HHH.”

“The fight to end homelessness belongs to everybody in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We’re standing together at all levels of government to get people the shelter and services they need more quickly and efficiently than ever before.”

The agreement was celebrated during the grand opening ceremony for the Silver Star Apartments — a 49-unit supportive housing community in the Crenshaw area for homeless veterans with disabilities. Built and operated with both public and private funding, the apartments represent the kind of collaborative approach for permanent supportive housing envisioned by the newly signed memorandum of understanding.

“I thank the voters of Los Angeles for stepping up and supporting Measure H and Proposition HHH and joining in the fight to end homelessness for those who are most vulnerable,” said Dora Leong Gallo, chief executive officer of A Community of Friends, which developed Silver Star Apartments. “Everyone deserves to have a home and be treated with respect.”

Ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open Silver Star Apartments, a 49-unit permanent supportive housing complex for veterans with disabilities who had experienced homelessness.

Volunteer for the Homeless Count

Los Angeles county and city leaders together issued a call for volunteers to participate in the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, saying it is critical to ending the crisis of homelessness.

“The 2017 Homeless Count estimated there are almost 58,000 people homeless in Los Angeles County on any given night,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas said at a press conference in Leimert Park. “In a county as prosperous as ours, it is a moral outrage and a humanitarian crisis that even one person has to sleep on the streets at night.”

All photos by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“The Homeless Count would not exist without the selfless participation of thousands of volunteers across the county,” added Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom, who chairs the commission of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which conducts the Homeless Count. “I’m optimistic that once again people will answer the call to help their neighbors experiencing homelessness,” he added.

Nearly 8,000 volunteers – a record – participated in the most recent Homeless Count. They conducted a point-in-time census of people living on the streets, in cars, under bridges, and other places not meant for human habitation. The data collected helps policymakers assess strategies and funding to address the crisis of homelessness.

LAHSA hopes to enlist even more volunteers for the next Homeless Count, scheduled January 23-25, 2018. To register online, go to www.theycountwillyou.org.

“Every Angeleno counts, whether they have an address or not,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the press conference. “The annual point-in-time count is the best tool we have to measure the scope of our homelessness crisis. Putting feet on the street in January will make a big difference in our work to get people into safe housing as quickly as we can.”

Board Chair Ridley-Thomas said Measure H and Proposition HHH will give the both the county and the city unprecedented resources to help those experiencing homelessness. 

Measure H is a voter-approved 1/4- cent countywide sales tax that would raise $355 million annually over a decade for services to the homeless. This unprecedented funding stream is expected to help 45,000 homeless men, women and children move into stable housing within the next five years, and provide them with the high-quality, multi-dimensional supportive services they need to succeed in the long run. It is also expected to prevent an estimated 30,000 people from becoming homeless in the first place

Proposition HHH is a voter-approved $1.2-billion city bond that would  finance the construction of 8,000 to 10,000 permanent supportive housing units for the chronically homeless in the city of Los Angeles over the next decade. It would also fund affordable housing, temporary shelters and other amenities needed by the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.

National Honor for LA County
Plan to Fight Homelessness

L-R: LA County Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell, CEO Sachi Hamai and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, joined by National Alliance to End Homelessness President and CEO Nan Roman and the event emcee, PBS News Hour anchor Judy Woodruff. All photos by Larry Levin.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness honored Los Angeles County at its 2017 Innovation and Excellence Awards in Washington D.C.

The Alliance praised the County’s Homeless Initiative and Measure H, which over the next five years is expected to end homelessness for about 45,000 individuals and families, and prevent homelessness for 30,000 more.

“Ending homelessness in any community demands a relentless focus on innovation and pursuit of excellence,” Alliance President and CEO Nan Roman said. “This year’s awardees demonstrate the power and potential to create lasting change and put us on the road to ending homelessness.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas accepted the award on behalf of the County, accompanied by County Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai, and Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell.

“The County is honored to be recognized nationally for developing the Homeless Initiative and providing an ongoing source of revenue through Measure H that will put us on a path to prevent and end homelessness,” Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “We have much to do, but thanks to the voters and support from a broad-based coalition of community partners, we’re confident we can finally address this humanitarian crisis head on with the resources needed to effect real change.”

The Alliance said the Homeless Initiative collected broad-based community input on how to focus the County’s efforts to end homelessness. The Board, acting on motions principally authored by Chairman Ridley-Thomas, then declared a state of emergency on homelessness and adopted an ordinance to authorize a quarter-cent countywide special sales tax. The ballot measure, known as Measure H, passed with support from almost 70 percent of voters and is expected to raise $355 million in annual revenue over the next decade to combat homelessness.

During the ceremony, awards were also handed out to the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland, Maine, and to the Central City Concern in Portland, Oregon.

The Alliance is nonprofit and nonpartisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the U.S. It analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost-effective policy solutions; works collaboratively with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity; and provides data and research to policymakers and elected officials to inform policy debates and educate the public and opinion leaders nationwide.

Crisis and Bridge Housing in Compton

Dozens of homeless families will soon be able to move into an apartment complex in Compton, the latest example of Measure H @work.

Acting on a motion by its Chairman, Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors approved using Measure H funds to convert an apartment complex into 52 units of crisis and bridge housing, which are short-term accommodations for people transitioning into permanent housing. They provide a more stable, home-like environment, in part because they have kitchens so families can prepare their own meals.

The nonprofit Special Service for Groups Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (SSG HOPICS) will operate the site. It already operates 89 crisis and bridge housing units at various sites, while also providing emergency housing for 223 families at hotels and motels throughout the region.

Each crisis and bridge housing unit typically costs the County $60 and $80 a night, respectively, while hotels and motels cost approximately $95 per night. Transforming an apartment complex into additional crisis and bridge housing units will reduce the County’s reliance on hotels and motels, saving an estimated $474,500 a year, which can be used for further help the homeless population.

SSG HOPICS Division Director Veronica Lewis said, “The investment in developing additional family crisis housing capacity in this region is both timely and necessary to meet the growing demand for homeless families, and to ensure safety and security for children in our community.”

Measure H is a 1/4-cent County sales tax approved by nearly 70 percent of voters on March 7. Projected to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years, it is expected to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness within the next five years, and to prevent homelessness for 30,000 others.