Showing civic engagement and compassion for their neighbors, more than 100 volunteers held a Community Day to prepare the trailers at Safe Landing for Families-Crenshaw/Expo to be “move-in ready” for the homeless families with children moving in. Most of the volunteers were residents and business owners from the surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is about the local community taking ownership of this crisis and partnering with the state and local government to come up with meaningful solutions in their own backyard,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. He spearheaded the effort to secure the trailers from Governor Gavin Newsom and make them the centerpiece of a safe, secure and welcoming community where homeless families can receive supportive services until they can transition into affordable apartments.
Volunteers worked all morning to assemble a play set, dog run and patio furniture for each trailer. They also installed landscaping and cleaned and supplied the trailers with household products, such as dishes and bedding. Finally, they made welcome baskets for the families, who currently stay in cars, dilapidated RVs or rented motel rooms in the immediate vicinity.
“Each and every one of us has the power to make a difference like we’re seeing today,” Councilmember Herb Wesson said. “This is not an issue that’s going to be solved by government alone. This is a battle we must come together to win. There’s no other option.”
“At a time when solutions to homelessness are not always as efficient or effective as they need to be, Safe Landing for Families is a breath of fresh air,” Controller Ron Galperin said. “Creating partnerships to put temporary housing on vacant, publicly-owned property is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that I’ve long advocated for to address this crisis. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is setting an example that other elected officials should follow by doing what it takes to get people off the streets today.”
Community representative Michael Collins was among the volunteers who turned out to help his homeless neighbors. “The housing of these families represents the idea of collaboration between the Governor’s office, the Supervisor’s office, the City Council office and the community,” he said. “The importance of today will be reflected by the successful integration of these families back into mainstream society. Today, we have given them some of the tools to restart their future.”
“Homelessness in Los Angeles is now a crisis and has become everyone’s problem,” added City National Bank Vice President and Branch Manager Peter Jackson, who also volunteered on Community Day. “Anyone can become homeless, so it is important to come together as a community to support those in need. Today marks a significant step in remedying the problem and, as a leader in the business community, I hope we will continue to support civic efforts like this and support our local leaders like Supervisor Ridley-Thomas who are making a difference.”
Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order to make state-owned travel trailers available to local governments to use as temporary housing. Located on an LA County-owned site – a former Probation Department parking lot – Safe Landing for Families-Crenshaw/Expo is the second community developed around the trailers.
The nonprofit homeless services provider HOPICS will provide the families with supportive services and help them secure affordable apartments, using funding from LA County’s Measure H and Prop. 63, the Mental Health Services Act.
“The launching of Safe Landing at Crenshaw/Expo is a result of the tenacity of LA County and City’s deep commitment to find meaningful solutions to address homelessness,” HOPICS Director Veronica Lewis said. “The reality of people, including children, sleeping on our LA streets is heart wrenching and one of the worst humanitarian issues of our time. To effectively resolve it, we need Everyone In to lend their support, talents, resources and heart to this effort. Community Day at Safe Landing-Crenshaw/Expo provides an opportunity for people to get involved through volunteering their time to help make this site a beautiful community.”
To prepare the site, the LA County Chief Executive Office and Public Works expedited the installation of electricity, water and sewage connections in coordination with the LA City Departments of Sanitation, and Water and Power.
Meanwhile, Trammell Crow Co., ConAm Building Co. and Unisource Solutions donated a trailer for HOPICS staff to use as an office at the site. The California Community Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Wells Fargo and the LA Business Council donated funds for a play area and other amenities, as well as gardening supplies and bed linens. The LA County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) donated toys for the children.
“DPSS is the heart and soul of Los Angeles County, and we are so happy to donate toys to the children who will make this home,” DPSS Director Antonia Jiménez said. “We provide services to individuals who are experiencing homelessness, hunger, unemployment and a lack of health insurance. We are here to help provide the services that can support and stabilize families. We applaud Safe Landing’s community and we hope that these toys will bring comfort and smiles to the children and their parents.”