Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Outreach, Services, and Housing, or, the Three Legged Stool

As many of us take the opportunity tomorrow to break bread with our friends and families, there are nearly 90,000 souls in the Los Angeles area who will sleep without a roof over their heads. With winter quickly approaching, I joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and my colleagues on the Ad Hoc Homelessness Committee, Bill Rosendahl and Jan Perry, at People Assisting The Homeless (PATH)'s services center in East Hollywood to announce the dedication of $4.6 million towards relieving homelessness for this and every season. PATH provided the ideal setting to make this announcement: as the program at this innovative services center shows us exactly how we can transition individuals from the street to productive lives permanently.

PATH provides outreach, services, and housing under one roof. For too long, we have dealt with homelessness in fragments. We talk about where we can move people off the street, but not about where they can live. We talk about where people can stay, but not about how they can stay there. We talk about how we can help them, but not about how we can get them to accept help. While this initial $4.6 million is a mere drop in the bucket in our efforts to combat homelessness, by using these funds towards a strategy that emphasizes outreach, services, and housing we are demonstrating that the city will, from now on, address homelessness in a comprehensive, big picture manner. These three elements are three legs of a stool: if one is missing, we will fall down. We cannot, we must not, and we will not let those people we are trying to help fall anymore.