Homelessness in Los Angeles Continues to Soar to Nearly 47,000 People: Build on the Successes of Local Efforts
The latest count is that 47,000 Los Angelenos are homeless. The growth in the city was 11%; the growth in the county was 5.7%. Meanwhile homeless veterans in Los Angeles declined by a third in the past year due to the recent concerted efforts of the federal Veteran’s Administration. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-count-20160504-story.html
What causes homelessness in Los Angeles? It’s high rents and gentrification, inadequate supplies of public housing subsidies, combined with low wages, no incomes and lack of jobs exacerbated by untreated mental illness, substance abuse and medical conditions. Homelessness is concentrated in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Venice and Santa Monica and along the 110 corridor in South Los Angeles and growing in nearly all local communities.
The city and county of Los Angeles over the past year committed over a billion dollars to address the problem over the next 10 years, but it is all still in the planning stages. The federal government approved a five year waiver for “whole person” care that can help the chronically homeless with serious medical conditions; it is still in the planning and discussion stages locally as well. The federal government approved a waiver to beef up treatment of substance abuse in California; its implementation too is still in the planning stages.
What does one local multi-service center do to address these challenges right now? The Saint Joseph’s Center is headquartered in Venice and serves the Westside and South Los Angeles communities. http://www.stjosephctr.org/ I serve on its Board of Directors. It offers a range of services to local community residents in need: supportive housing, behavioral health, food, vocational training, representative payee and housing for the VA’s homeless, and early childhood education. Saint Joseph’s Center was funded in 1976 -- 40 years ago.
The Bread and Roses Café serves about 25,000 sit down hot meals annually to 2,000 homeless individuals and also serves as an entry point for access to Saint Joe’s housing services. Its affordable housing programs help the homeless find housing and then link them to the necessary support services. Recently Saint Joseph’s has been partnering with local developers to increase the supply of affordable supportive housing units in the local communities. Its culinary training program offers a 10-week training, including externships that place local community residents in entry-level positions in local restaurants. Its new code talk program trains low income women for entry level positions in the growing local tech industry (Silicon Beach). Saint Joe’s provides mental health treatment for local teens, young adults and older adults to prevent repeat and chronic homelessness. It also offers early childhood education for local families, including dual language immersion programs. So: food, housing, support services, vocational training, job placement and early childhood education for 6,000 low-income community residents delivered through a local non-profit community service center.
What could you do to help? Volunteer and/or donate, learn how it’s done, and spread the word. Go t0 http://www.stjosephctr.org/