25,000 Masks for Homeless Service Providers and Shelters

Continuing to strengthen protections for Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in partnership with Moldex, donated 25,000 masks to homeless service providers.

The mask giveaway took place at Upward Bound House’s Family Emergency Shelter in Culver City, a former motel that has been repurposed as an emergency shelter for families who had been living on the streets, in vehicles, and other unsustainable living situations. Governor Gavin Newsom is seeking to take this model – converting motels and hotels into affordable housing for the homeless – statewide with an initiative called Homekey.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) Housing for Health Division received 22,000 of the masks to distribute to homeless service providers countywide. The remaining 3,000 masks went to Upward Bound House, a nonprofit that helps current and formerly homeless families with children achieve self-sufficiency and stability by providing them with permanent housing, supportive services and advocacy – with a focus on preventing them from falling back into homelessness.

“We support Upward Bound House and the many other homeless service providers that pound the pavement each and every day to ensure that no man, woman or child ever has to call the streets of Los Angeles County their home,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This work is hard enough without a pandemic. With this donation of 3,000 masks, Upward Bound House’s caring and dedicated staff can safely continue to help families get a roof over their heads and get back on their feet. Upward Bound House’s clients, meanwhile, can use the masks to stay healthy as they navigate the road to recovery.”

“Like all families in LA, the families we serve are deeply concerned about their health and safety,” Upward Bound House CEO Christine Mirasy-Glasco said. “These masks will help our families protect themselves from the pandemic and continue to focus on their goal of living independent, healthy lives. The masks will also be provided to staff, volunteers and visitors to ensure that Upward Bound House maintains a safe working environment for all.”

“Moldex is pleased during these challenging times to be able to support the worthy efforts of Supervisor Thomas and our neighbors at Upward Bound,” said Mark Magidson, President of Moldex-Metric, Inc., which donated the masks.

In addition to the donation of 22,000 masks, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas recently gave DHS Housing for Health a $575,000 grant to purchase partitions, air flow devices, and other protective equipment to ensure safe physical distancing and prevent the spread of infection at homeless shelters and interim housing  within Los Angeles County’s Second District, protecting the health and safety of both residents and staff.

DHS Housing for Health Division’s Program Manager for Policy and Planning, Sally Malone, said “Personal protective equipment is a crucial requirement for our homeless service provider partners who work directly with people experiencing homelessness to secure housing and provide supportive services.”

“The Housing for Health program, which funds housing and service providers throughout Los Angeles County, is so grateful for this donation of PPE which will enable our partners to continue their work with people experiencing homelessness in the safest, most effective way possible during the COVID-19 crisis,” she added. “Access to PPE is vital to the staff, participants and the operations of homeless service provider agencies, such as Upward Bound House.”

Over the last several months, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has been working with Operation USA, Servicon and Moldex to distribute 150,000 masks throughout LA County’s Second District, whose residents have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The masks have been distributed to thousands of local residents, as well as essential workers such as health care providers, grocery store workers, public defenders, and now homeless services providers.

Since its inception in 1990, Upward Bound House has placed around 1,400 families in permanent housing, including 2,600 children. It currently serves more than 400 families a year through programs on the Westside and in South Los Angeles. Their programs include a “rapid rehousing” program that helps families transition from shelters into their own apartments as quickly as possible. There are also eight residential housing programs, of which two are for pregnant and/or parenting youth ages 18-24.

With the pandemic exacerbating the already profound struggles of homeless families, Upward Bound House responded by providing food, basic household items, masks and other protective gear. Its caring and dedicated staff also installed reliable high-speed internet at all shelter facilities so that children can continue their education through distance learning. They have also increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing routines at all their residential sites.

Created in 2013, DHS Housing for Health focuses on creating permanent supportive housing opportunities and providing clinical services for chronically homeless patients within the DHS system of care. With their complex medical and behavioral conditions, these patients tend to be frequent users of emergency healthcare and public safety resources, including the jail system.

DHS Housing for Health oversees and funds several homeless service programs, including more than 300 street outreach workers within Multi-Disciplinary Teams working with unsheltered individuals across the County, recuperative care and stabilization interim housing, board and care placements, access to social security benefits, and permanent housing opportunities.