Archive for December 2nd, 2010

2nd December
written by Catherine An

With all due respect to the empire state, let’s hear it for Los Angeles!

Yesterday, flanked by city and county officials, community members, and leaders in the field, the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness unveiled a five year plan to end chronic and veterans homelessness in Los Angeles.

The plan outlines a comprehensive initiative built on rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, regional solutions, and community cooperation. The report also identified four key strategies to accomplishing this mission:

  • Align goals to integrate our system
  • Collect and share data to assess need and track progress
  • Target and reallocate existing resources to maximize impact
  • Coordinate resources to streamline funding.

Los Angeles has long been a challenge for the homeless assistance field, with far and away the largest number of people of experiencing homelessness (42,694 according to the latest AHAR, a high rate of homelessness (43/10,000 people in LA are homeless; the national average is 23), and the infamous Skid Row. Los Angeles is also home to a number of other conditions that make it residents vulnerable to homelessness: a high poverty rate (15.3 percent), high unemployment (12.5 percent), and notoriously high housing costs. Los Angeles is also distinctive in it’s unusually high unsheltered count – even among large cities, Los Angeles stands out as one with the majority of its homeless population unsheltered (28,644 homeless people in LA are unsheltered, according to the latest AHAR.)

No where in the country is a fresh new commitment to ending homelessness needed more. The Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness rightly recognized the need “to shift away from a [homeless assistance] system that is cumbersome and confusing…” and recommending “an integrated system focused on rapidly housing people with the supports they need to thrive…”

Most importantly, they recognized that housing stability is the cornerstone to personal and community improvement – and that the road to getting there is to create a system that supports housing stability.

“The foundation of a re-imaged system is the notion that housing stability is a critical first step on the road to wellness. Vital health, mental health, and other supportive services are then provided after individuals are housed, enabling them to better address these challenges.”

We here at the Alliance are thrilled at this new sign of urgency and enthusiasm to end homelessness in the city of Los Angeles (our own Nan Roman has been out there all week to show here support!) And while the road will undoubtedly be long and hard, the rewards for accomplishing the brave and worthwhile goal will far outweigh the burden of implementing the plan.

Three cheers for our friends in Los Angeles!