Metro’s PATH to End Homelessness

Ishmael Anderson and Chairman Ridley-Thomas meet at Pershing Square Metro Station. All photos by Henry Salazar / Board of Supervisors

Ishmael Anderson, a young soon-to-be father, found himself looking for shelter with his girlfriend, Ashley, at the Pershing Square Metro station in downtown Los Angeles.  But this was no ordinary day for homeless youth in Los Angeles.

“This is PATH,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ridley-Thomas introducing Ishmael and Ashley to People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), “You’re going to be in good shape.”

Chairman Ridley-Thomas was joined by Metro CEO Philip Washington, Metro System Security and Law Enforcement Chief Alex Wiggins, and Metro’s multi-disciplinary  outreach teams during a visit to Metro stations at 7th Street and Pershing Square.  Two homeless outreach teams surveyed the area, each composed of five members including a nurse, substance abuse counselor, mental health clinician, a formerly homeless individual, and an outreach worker from PATH.  The teams now work exclusively on the Metro Red Line as part of a pilot program conducting outreach Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. to help connect homeless individuals with much needed services.

The coordinated effort is a result of a motion authored by Chairman Ridley-Thomas and Metro Directors John Fasana and Mike Bonin allocating $1.2M to combat the homeless epidemic on Metro stations in Los Angeles County.  From Long Beach to Lancaster, many of the 58,000 homeless individuals in the county seek shelter within Metro’s stations, and by riding trains and buses.

Since beginning this outreach, Metro’s outreach teams have made over 1,400 contacts with homeless individuals and placed roughly 10 percent into housing solutions.

This homeless outreach method is being replicated on Metro following successful homeless engagement in Los Angeles’ “Skid Row” – a community in Downtown Los Angeles with a large homeless presence. And Chairman Ridley-Thomas hopes to expand the program with additional Measure H dollars.  The county has set aside $73 million for expanding outreach in the first three years of Measure H.

“This is just one small part of our large scale collaborative effort now underway to combat homelessness by connecting our angels,” the Chairman said.

(Also reported by KPCC.)