Tuesday, September 27, 2005

People Assisting the Homeless

A few months ago, I stood with dozens of volunteers in East Hollywood to hit the streets of Los Angeles in order to conduct Los Angeles' first Homeless Count, to survey our streets and know exactly how many people are homeless in Los Angeles.

While we have made some important policy advances in combatting homelessness in recent years, such as making our emergency shelters open year-round, quadrupling the money from our city's General Fund that goes to homeless programs, and, of course, some $200 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the results of the Homeless Count was sobering as we found out that Los Angeles has the largest homeless population of any county in the United States. On any given night, about 90,000 of our fellow Angelenos spend the night without a home.

Working with the Hollywood community, we have been determined to help get homeless individuals off of the streets and into productive lives. After three years of work, we took another step towards ending homelessness in Los Angeles with the opening of a new 65-bed shelter in East Hollywood run by People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), a nationally-recognized homeless services organization.

Using local Block Grant funds, federal funds, and private donations, we were able to find the money to build, staff, and open this new center. It is beautiful--already the center has taken 100 new individuals off the streets of Hollywood, and in just the first few weeks, found dozens of people new jobs, helped individuals with substance abuse problems, and begun to turn around the lives of many who had lost hope in themselves.

As important as the opening of the shelter was also the launching of a new campaign to help build support for neighborhood-based solutions to homelessness with the YIMBY! (Yes! In My Backyard) campaign. Business leaders, churches and other faith-based organizations, non-profits, and neighborhood council leaders all joined elected officials in endorsing the YIMBY! principles. I encourage you to find out more about the new shelter and to get involved with the YIMBY! campaign.