It has been our honor to participate with LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) in 4 of their Winter Shelters throughout Los Angeles from December 1st to March 15th. We utilized the National Guard Armories in Glendale, Culver City and West LA, and added 200 beds to our downtown URM facility, to operate these Winter Shelters. We contracted to operate 660 or so beds, but found many nights that we were housing up to 820 guests at these timely, thoughtful Winter Shelters during much of the rain that we have experienced recently.
We chose to jump into this opportunity with our pubic benefits charity, not because it helps us earn extra money, or any other reason except that it helps us fulfill our mission: to embrace people experiencing homelessness. It also helps us regionalize the solution to homelessness, the 4th step in our 10 step plan http://youarethemission.org to end homelessness as we know it in Los Angeles. We firmly believe that every region, city and neighborhood in Los Angeles County should provide services and housing to assist their own neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, rather than sending their struggling folks downtown to the mean streets of Skid Row; as I describe Skid Row, it is the worst man made disaster in America and we need to end Skid Row as we know it by regionalizing the solution to homelessness.
It has been a joy to participate in these thoughtful, helpful Winter Shelters. We’ve seen people arrive at our shelters just 30 minutes after being evicted from their homes, experiencing homelessness for the first time. We’ve seen senior adults, adult males and females, young ladies running from abusive relationships, young unemployed people, and families with children. It has been an honor to be there to greet them with a warm cot, good meal, and a roof over their heads in their time of need. The challenge and heartache is coming up quickly; the closing of the Winter Shelters is on March 15th! On that day, the armories close, funding runs out, and the cots go to a warehouse and the precious souls who do not connect with other hard to find services return to the streets. It is hard for me to bear. I grieve for days. I already am grieving.
The 7th of 10 steps in http://youarethemission.org , is a call to keep the Winter Shelters open year round as a much needed safety net! There are more deadly things on the streets than just the bad weather. Homelessness itself is deadly, taking decades off the life of an individual and doing devastating damage.
Why in the world would we close down this vital safety net?
How can we send folks out to the streets who want to stay in a place that provides a roof over their heads and a connection with case management and vital services? The Governor of California, during these extraordinary times, could declare a state of emergency, keep the armories open, and our city and county could team up with us and the other agencies running shelters to make sure that these 1600 beds stay open, and that our friends experiencing homelessness could be provided with a shelter long enough to get back on their feet. It could cost as little as $1,000,000 per shelter to operate them at capacity(150-200 persons each night) for 1 year.
For the sake of these precious souls, would you consider contacting the :
Governor: Click here for email form.
LAHSA: Click here for email form.
County officials: Click here for contact list.
City officals: Click here for email form.