Kobe Bryant and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas join over 10,000 participants mobilized to end homelessness in Los Angeles County

United Way of Greater Los Angeles hosted the fifth Annual HomeWalk to end homelessness, a 5k run and walk commencing in Exposition Park, in downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the event’s Honorary Chair, kicked off the event that featured approximately 10,000 participants. With over 51,000 homeless men and women in Los Angeles County, nearly one-quarter of which are chronically homeless, United Way and its partners are working to drive community awareness and action as part of its year-round campaign to prevent and end homelessness. Over the past four years, HomeWalk has mobilized 18,000 walkers, raised $1.7 million and moved 9,000 people into permanent housing.

“For the fifth year, thousands of Angelenos presented a united front against homelessness – collectively saying that the current situation in Los Angeles County is unacceptable. It is crucial that our residents tell elected officials that they are outraged and want this issue solved. HomeWalk gives them that platform,” said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “Our communities are suffering, and we know that by mobilizing Angelenos we can continue to raise funds and awareness to create pathways out of poverty, getting the homeless into permanent housing.”

Homeless statistics in Los Angeles County:

  • Over 51,000 homeless people are in Los Angeles County; 18% are veterans
  • 40% of those homeless are women and children
  • Nearly one-quarter of those homeless (24%) are chronically homeless
  • 67% are unsheltered, living on the streets or in cars
  • Almost one third (32%) of homeless people in Los Angeles have a bachelors degree or higher
  • One of the leading reasons for homelessness is the loss of a job; unemployment in the Country is in double digits
  • Over half our households spend over 30% of income on rent, so just one crisis can push a family into homelessness

“Kobe Bryant has helped us reach more residents concerned about fighting homelessness, and his charity has done great work with homeless children. With the support of celebrities like Kobe, our public officials and Los Angeles County residents, we can make a difference,” continued Buik. The event commenced in downtown Los Angeles’ Exposition Park with elected officials and thousands of participants beginning the Walk at Figueroa street. The 5k route led participants through an educational journey displaying sobering scenes that illustrate homelessness and the long journey to permanent housing.

“I am touched to see that so many people are raising money for us,” said Trevor, a homeless man who was at the HomeWalk 2011. “I have been living on the streets for three years and thanks to all of the HomeWalk participants, I believe that someday, I will have a permanent house.”

The county-wide epidemic of homelessness is one of United Way’s core priorities to create pathways out of poverty.  HomeWalk is part of United Way’s pledge to raise the public awareness and fund solutions to end homelessness. For more information please go to www.homewalkla.org.

About United Way of Greater Los Angeles

United Way of Greater Los Angeles is committed to creating pathways out of poverty so that everyone who lives in our communities can have a better quality of life. We are focused on providing long-term solutions in the 3 interconnected areas, which are the root causes of poverty.

What is HomeWalk?
HomeWalk is United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ annual 5K Run/Walk to End Homelessness. Each year thousands join together to do their part by fundraising and spreading the word that homelessness is a solvable problem.

Why HomeWalk?
In Los Angeles County 51,000 people are homeless. Over the past 4 years, HomeWalk has mobilized 18,000 walkers, raised $1.7 million and funded organizations that have moved 9,000 people into permanent housing.  All proceeds go directly back to the community, supporting permanent solutions to end homelessness for chronically homeless people, veterans and families.

How Can We End Homelessness?
The number one reason for homelessness is loss of a job. With our region’s unemployment at the highest it’s been in a decade it’s not surprising that we are the homeless capital of the nation and that 40% of the homeless population are women and children.

We can end chronic, veteran and family homelessness by moving people into housing quickly while giving them the necessary services to remain there. Solutions such as permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing have proven highly successful in citied such as New York and Denver. In Los Angeles County the solutions we support have over 85% success at keeping people off the streets for good with a 43% cost savings for tax-payers.

HomeWalk is an opportunity for our community to come together to raise funds and hope for a better future. Join us by participating, volunteering and/or recruiting others. Together we will end homelessness.

(SOURCE United Way of Greater Los Angeles.)