Exposition Park Embraces Everyone In

Hundreds of people in Exposition Park got an up-close look at solutions to homelessness during United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ first-ever Everyone In pop-up community event.

They were treated to a virtual reality experience in which formerly homeless people now leading stable lives shared their powerful stories of how supportive housing helped them. Everyone In organizers encouraged attendees to volunteer and be engaged at every turn.

On hand to talk about their work, and how volunteers can help, were more than 30 nonprofit organizations in South LA that provide transition assistance to jobs and housing, and other services.

“Homelessness is a moral crisis which will define our civic legacy in the eyes of future generations,” Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas said at the event. “There can be no conscientious objectors in this fight. With Measure H, we can scale up our compassion, our innovation,” he added. “We cannot be timid in the face of this crisis.”

Just over a year ago, voters passed Measure H and Proposition HHH, taxing themselves to fund supportive housing and other services to address the crisis of homelessness. Supportive housing — which combines apartments with on-site services — is safe and well designed, with a 90 percent success rate at keeping people from going back to living on the streets.

A recent poll commissioned by United Way found 69 percent of LA County voters said they want supportive housing for homeless people built in their own neighborhoods.

“Supportive housing is the best solution for ending homelessness and we now know that there’s a strong majority that supports building these solutions in their neighborhoods,” United Way President and CEO Elise Buik said. “We hope people will leave this event with a greater understanding of the benefits of supportive housing, and how they can take action to demand proven solutions to ending homelessness.”

Powered by United Way, Everyone In is a campaign aimed at engaging and activating people across LA County to take part in helping their most homeless neighbors obtain the services they need to build stable lives. The pop-up community event in Exposition Park is the first of many large engagement events that will take place across LA County throughout the year.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. Other leaders who participated in the activities at Exposition Park were Wells Fargo vice president for community affairs Gregg Sherkin,Natural History Museum President and Director Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and SSG-HOPICS Director Veronica Lewis.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. United Way’s Elise Buik, Wells Fargo’s Gregg Sherkin, SSG-HOPICS’ Veronica Lewis, the Natural History Museum’s Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas attended the Exposition Park community event. All photos by Diandra Jay.

Housing and Healthcare Under One Roof

Rendering of Joshua House Health Center and Six Four Nine Lofts, courtesy of Skid Row Housing Trust and Adobe Communities Architecture

A state-of-the-art building that will provide affordable housing and healthcare under one roof is now under construction in Skid Row and expected to open in 2019.

Six Four Nine Lofts – consisting of 55 affordable housing apartments for people who had been homeless – will occupy the top four stories at the corner of 7th Street and Wall Street. Joshua House Health Center will occupy the bottom three stories.

At the ground blessing ceremony. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

At the groundbreaking and blessing ceremonies, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “Our collective pursuit should be to create opportunities so that anyone who calls Los Angeles County home is able to live a life of dignity and purpose.”

“The goal is access to health, access to homes, access to a better life, and access to a better community,” he added. “Let’s all be part of the movement we call Everyone In!

Skid Row Housing Trust, the lead developer for both projects, will own and operate Six Four Nine Lofts, whose residents will be mostly veterans and individuals with chronic health conditions. Thanks to funding from the County’s Department of Health Services and the US Department Veteran Affairs, they will receive comprehensive case management, as well as referrals to a wide array of services, such as physical and mental healthcare, substance abuse and detox services, counseling, peer support groups, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, life skills and employment training.

Los Angeles Christian Health Centers (LACHC) will own and operate the Joshua House Health Center, its flagship facility. “We are proud of this very special project that we hope will help transform the way healthcare and housing services are offered to people who are homeless and underserved,” LACHC President and CEO, Dr. Lisa Abdishoo, said. “Our multidisciplinary care teams will deliver the full continuum of medical, dental and mental health; substance abuse services; and linkage to housing under one roof.”

Courtesy of Skid Row Housing Trust and Adobe Communities Architecture

Joshua House Health Center was designed to be state-of-the-art, open and welcoming, while offering a safe place for people to receive high-quality care. It will have 18 medical exam rooms, six flexible consultation rooms, eight dental chairs, nine mental health rooms, 13 social work and care coordination offices, a multipurpose area to provide health education and fitness classes, a meditation room, and a chaplain’s office.

LACHC expects to serve 1,200 patients in its first year at the site, and eventually serve up to 7,000 patients annually. Trust CEO Mike Alvidrez said, “As the developer, we are pleased to partner with LACHC to help expand medical care and services in a new, modern clinic that better reflects the level of dignity and quality of care LACHC has shown patients for more than 20 years.”

Without homes, people are exposed to harsh weather, disease, violence, unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, stress and addictive substances. The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is 30 years less than that of people who do not live on the streets.

Using a single location for a separate housing and healthcare projects – each with its own structure, ownership and financing – is an efficient use of public funds as it allows many development costs, like site acquisition, to be split between the two projects. It makes each project less expensive.

Both projects received funding from a diverse array of sources, including LA County, LA City, and the state of California. This collaboration is most evident in the housing portion, which includes one-time capital funds of $5.5 million from Proposition HHH and $1.5 million from LA County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In addition, LA County’s Department of Health Services will invest $7.4 million over the next 15 years for rental subsidies and support services.

Aside from constructing the building, the Trust leveraged $5.3 million in state cap-and-trade funds to make transit-related improvements along 7th Street, including bike share stations, bike lane, accessible crosswalks and traffic lights.

Courtesy of Skid Row Housing Trust and Adobe Communities Architecture

 

 

Building on the Success of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams

A member of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams at work. All photos by Henry Salazar/ Board of Supervisors

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board voted unanimously to consider building on the success of a pilot program that deployed two outreach teams along the Red Line to help homeless individuals aboard buses and trains, and in and around transit stations, obtain housing and other services.

Coauthored by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Duarte Mayor John Fasana and Councilman Mike Bonin, the motion directed Metro’s chief executive to submit recommendations for extending the Pilot Multidisciplinary Homeless Outreach Program on an ongoing basis, including potential expansion of the program to other lines and stations with a large homeless population.

“It’s critical that we don’t lose momentum,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “These teams were initially funded on a pilot basis and now that they have demonstrated their worth, we need to assure that the service will be ongoing.”

“There are clear opportunities to provide similar intensive services in other areas – notably on the Gold, Blue and Green Lines – and the funding requirements and logistical implications of this should be assessed in short order,” he added. “We know that deploying homeless outreach through multidisciplinary teams is the most successful way of getting individuals housed and into services. As an added benefit, this type of intervention also improves the atmosphere for our passengers.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas proposed a pilot program with two outreach teams in October 2016. Each team, composed of a nurse, a substance abuse counselor, a mental health clinician, an outreach worker, and a formerly homeless individual, began offering assistance on the Red Line in May 2017.

Over the last 10 months, they have engaged 1,539 individuals, and linked 208 of them to interim housing resources. Another 237 individuals have been linked to permanent housing resources, and 19 have been permanently housed.

“Metro is an important partner in the effort to end the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Metro’s homeless outreach teams have proven highly effective for ridership, homeless and otherwise. Now, it’s time to scale up and build on the growing movement we call Everyone In.”

Metro CEO Phil Washingon and Supervisor and Metro Board member Mark Ridley-Thomas with members of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone In!

Hundreds of people – including Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, NBC’s “This is Us” actor Jon Huertas, and United Way’s Elise Buik – gathered at Echo Park Lake to announce the launch of Everyone In, a powerful and diverse coalition of people fighting for the common goal of ending homelessness across Los Angeles County.

Powered by United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Everyone In will bring together leaders and voices within Los Angeles County philanthropy, business, labor, faith and community organizations to keep solutions to homelessness moving forward.

Specifically, Everyone In will:

LAHSA Street Outreach Team members go out into communities every day to help people living on the streets obtain housing and a wide range of supportive services.

  • Create ways for the public to get involved. Everyone In will offer opportunities to learn more about the work that is happening across the county, volunteer, and train and organize people to advocate for approving supportive housing and other needed services in their own neighborhoods;
  • Track, measure, and share progress. Everyone In will monitor Measure H and Proposition HHH funded programs and share both progress and challenges. This will include the goal of ending homelessness for 45,000, preventing homelessness for 30,000 and approving 5,000 units of supportive housing for our most vulnerable by July 1, 2022;
  • Lift up successes and celebrate wins. Everyone In will celebrate progress and work to maintain the momentum and urgency it will take to finally end homelessness.
“Together, we have a real opportunity to get our homeless neighbors off the streets, out of shelters, and into stable homes for good,” said Elise Buik, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “What stops us now won’t be a lack of homes, but a lack of understanding of the issues and solutions. It’s time to bring people together and form the public and private partnerships we need to get the job done. Everyone In is well positioned to do just that.” 

Everyone In pledges to track and measure progress so that the Measure H and Proposition HHH-funded programs remain on the path to success in the next decade. It is partnering with Los Angeles County and various city agencies to model and project progress in ways that will provide the public with a clearer picture of whether efforts are succeeding or falling short. 

Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

“A year ago, Los Angeles voters dug deep into their hearts and wallets to pass both Measure H and Proposition HHH, giving us unprecedented resources to tackle homelessness,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Today, we are building on that momentum and issuing a call to action. We need all hands on deck – Everyone In – because we all have a part to play, as well as a moral imperative, to confront this humanitarian crisis.”

The recent call on L.A. City Council members to each recommend approval of at least 222 new supportive housing units in their districts within the next three years is an early example of the type of role Everyone In will play. United Way campaign set the benchmark and partnered with City Council President Herb Wesson, as well as other city council members, to supportive the initiative.

“There is only one way to end the homelessness crisis — together,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Everyone In is about opening our hearts to Angelenos in desperate need, our minds to innovative strategies to get people off the street, and our neighborhoods to supportive housing that will keep people healthy, safe, and in a home for good.”

The EveryoneInLA.org website offers tips on how you can help the homeless, even if you have only two minutes.

The Everyone In launch included a rally with more than 500 supporters in Echo Park Lake, and debuted a new art installation: an oversized, 14-foot tall open door that depicts the cycles of homelessness and symbolizes the invitation for everyone to get involved in the solution. Created by local artist Rob Reynolds, the installation will tour throughout L.A. County in the coming months.

In the coming months, Everyone In will be connecting L.A.’s leaders in business, sports, arts, entertainment, and community to build a network of influential voices who are taking action to be part of the solution to end homelessness. A recent survey commissioned by United Way found that 69 percent of respondents countywide said they would back supportive housing in their own neighborhoods, and 56 percent said they favored solutions that addressed the root causes of homelessness, even if it takes a longer time. Everyone In seeks to engage and activate that silent majority.

“There’s a quote from the Buddha that a single candle can light a thousand others without diminishing itself,” said Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell. “The launch of the Everyone In campaign will be a critical next step in continuing to grow the number of candles that are lit, and to increase the intensity of those burning candles as we work together to bring our homeless neighbors home.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, with Mayor Eric Garcetti and United Way’s Elise Buik gathered with a massive crowd to launch Everyone In. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors

We Need Everyone In
to Get Everyone Into Homes

 

Op-Ed

By Elise Buik, President & CEO, United Way Of Greater Los Angeles

and Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor, Los Angeles County, 2nd District

 

Early last year, a woman named Julie Crane, only in her 50s, died alone in her car. Born to talented chemists, the university graduate once had a career with Princess Cruises before falling into homelessness. They say she died of natural causes.

There is nothing natural about dying alone in a car. There is nothing natural about living in a County where nearly 58,000 people lack the stability of a safe place to sleep.

Los Angeles County has changed dramatically in recent years. Thanks to Measure M, we’re building the infrastructure of the future with an $860 million annual investment in transportation for our growing population. We’re home to two NFL teams, building world-class stadiums, and are set to host the world during the 2028 Olympics.

But despite many incredible changes for the better, we’re still not effectively tackling our homelessness crisis. Encampments are no longer reserved to Skid Row, they’re present in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County because, unfortunately, it’s an issue that we have overlooked and underinvested in for decades. That all changed November 2016 and March 2017 when voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition HHH and Measure H, which will generate $5 billion over ten years to build housing, fund services and, for the first time, allow us to also focus on prevention.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Measure H. Recognizing the urgency, the county advanced funding back in July, prior to the tax going into effect, in order to get work started quickly. Since then, we have quadrupled the number of homeless outreach teams, added 600 shelter beds, and provided subsidies or bridge housing to keep over 1,000 people housed.

In order to address our most vulnerable homeless population, we’re also prioritizing supportive housing, a proven and cost-effective solution. A USC study showed that costs to provide supportive housing for our homeless neighbors are 43% lower than the costs associated with a person living on the streets or in emergency shelters. The study also found that supportive housing is more effective than other solutions because once individuals are housed, access to services— including mental health treatment, medical care, and job training — helped them to stay housed with a 90% retention rate. What’s more, RAND Corporation’s 2017 evaluation of Los Angeles County’s Housing for Health program, which provides supportive housing with intensive services to people with complex medical and behavioral health issues who are also experiencing homelessness, found that for every $1 invested in the housing and services program, the County saved $1.20 in health care and social service costs.

The good news is the story you might not know: over the past 10 years, we have quietly built the infrastructure needed to support the major impact we need to take everyone off the streets. We’re not starting from scratch with this multi-billion-dollar investment. We’re building on the success of hundreds of supportive housing buildings that are already peacefully coexisting in neighborhoods countywide.

The other infrastructure we have built is alignment in our community. The City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles are working in tandem to thoughtfully integrate housing and services. Philanthropy, Labor, Business, the faith-based community, elected officials, community-based developers, and providers are all aligned and in this for the long term.

But government and philanthropy can’t do this alone. The voters have spoken in approving these dollars; now we need residents to play an active role in supporting solutions in their neighborhoods. And the good news is they want to. In a recent poll, close to 70% of county residents support building supportive housing in their neighborhoods and a majority believe we should focus our investments on long-term permanent solutions versus short-term fixes.

It will take all of us to make progress and that’s why we are launching a community engagement campaign entitled Everyone In. This campaign will allow individuals to learn more about the people who are experiencing homelessness in their community, to be informed on supportive housing, to attend community events and tours, to volunteer, and to take an active role in supporting solutions that work. The campaign will also feature public dashboards to monitor progress and results throughout the 88 cities countywide.

A community should be judged by how its most vulnerable population—in our case, our homeless neighbors—are treated. Homelessness is not an easy problem to solve. It will take deeply committed partnerships, persistence, and innovation to make a serious dent in homelessness. The good news is we know what works and voters across the county have agreed to fund those solutions — but funding alone is not enough. Let L.A.’s legacy not just be our transportation systems or Olympic bid, but how we, as a community, finally got everyone in.