Building a Better Life for the Homeless

Two brothers who used to live in makeshift encampments along the LA River take a tour of what will become their new home. It’s part of Los Angeles County’s unprecedented efforts to end the crisis of the homeless through Measure H.

 

Home for the Holidays

Monica Potts has been in and out of homelessness for over 30 years, but her life has taken a turn for the better, thanks to Los Angeles County’s efforts to combat homelessness through Measure H.

Expanding Services for
the Sick, Injured and Homeless

Los Angeles County is giving more homeless patients a safe place to heal, and placing them on a path to housing.

Thanks to Measure H, the County added 250 beds to its recuperative care network just in the past year, bringing the total to 432 beds distributed across 12 locations in Metro and South Los Angeles, Long Beach, Sylmar and Bell. This allows homeless patients to avoid going back out on the streets, where they are at far greater risk of becoming ill or injured all over again

Jennifer Campbell said she was grateful to receive treatment at the 100-bed Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center (MLK RCC) in Willowbrook. “They brought me to a room, and I had my own bed, and I had my own space,” she said. “I was indeed grateful – I was just happy to be alive.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at grand opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center in 2016. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

The MLK RCC, part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus, opened in January 2016 and takes in about 600 patients a year. “The MLK RCC provides homeless patients with a place to heal and a path to recovery,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “In addition to temporary housing, they receive round-the-clock care, including nursing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatments, life skills classes, and other services to help them achieve stability and transition into permanent supportive housing.”

A variety of nonprofit partners operate the County’s 12 recuperative care centers, but the Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health Division oversees the entire network.

A recently released three-year study by the RAND Corporation found Housing for Health initiatives, including recuperative care, saved taxpayers thousands of dollars by reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“Our hospitals are often hamstrung with no place to discharge homeless patients, necessitating that we hold up a bed for days when other patients truly need them,” County Health Agency director, Dr. Mitch Katz, said. “Recuperative care improves outcomes, reduces emergency room utilization, and creates health system savings that are more than offset by the costs of adding recuperative beds.”

One of the treatment rooms at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recuperative Care Center. Photo by DHS.

The County’s recuperative care network provides short-term transitional care for homeless patients discharged by County-run and private hospitals, as well as those exiting custody facilities with complex health and behavioral health conditions. There, health practitioners can provide services like dressing changes and wound care for patients who no longer require hospitalization, but whose condition could worsen if they were to return to the street. They typically provide such ‘respite’ care over four to 10 weeks on average, depending on the patients’ needs.

While the patients are recovering, social workers will link them to transitional ‘bridge’ or permanent housing with wraparound supportive medical, substance abuse and behavioral health services that can help them remain housed and medically managed.

Over the next 10 years, Measure H will provide over $3 billion that will be dedicated to homeless programs such as wraparound supportive services for those living in independent housing, rental subsidies, street engagement teams, case management and homeless prevention efforts. Recuperative care beds and services are funded through several sources, including Measure H, which has funded the addition of 250 new recupe

Now Hiring:
1,000 Workers to Help the Homeless

Homeless Services Provider Job Fair. All Photos by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

Throngs of job seekers attended the first of many job fairs aimed at creating a robust workforce to tackle the crisis of homelessness across Los Angeles County.

At the recent Homeless Services Provider Job Fair at Los Angeles City Hall, 33 private nonprofit organizations sought to fill 995 positions, ranging from entry-level outreach workers to executive directors. Their salaries will be funded through Measure H, a ¼-cent sales tax approved by voters in March to raise $355 million annually for services to the homeless.

Flanked by Councilman Curren Price, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sherine Ortega encourages job seekers. Formerly homeless, she is now an LA Homeless Services Authority outreach worker.

“Measure H is creating opportunities for people from all walks of life who are looking for work, and who want to be part of the solution,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the driving force behind the ballot initiative.

“Thanks to Measure H, our nonprofit partners are finally able to hire the staff needed to scale up their response to the homeless crisis,” he added. “Measure H is a jobs program for people at all levels of education and expertise, including people who have experienced homelessness.”

“Each person hired through this job fair will play a critical role in keeping vulnerable Angelenos from falling into homelessness, and helping people who are on our streets get back on their feet,” added Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti, who hosted the event. “Today, organizations have the resources they need to staff up and amplify their efforts to help end this crisis.”

More job fairs are planned over the coming months. Those seeking employment can also apply online at https://www.lahsa.org/jobs for the following positions:

  • Direct Service/Entry Level: Case Managers, Outreach Workers, Employment Specialists, Administrative and Finance Staff, and more;
  • Management/Supervisory Level: Program Managers and Directors, Supervisors, Coordinators, and more;
  • Professional Level: Those with advanced degrees such as Masters of Social Work, Masters of Public Policy, Masters of Public Health and Licensed Clinical Social Worker;
  • Executive Level: Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

 

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.