City of Beverly Hills joins the Home For Good movement!
In 2010, a mentally ill homeless man in Beverly Hills who had spent his days on a street corner and his nights sleeping behind a dumpster passed away at a local hospital. He was 55 years old and had been on the streets for 21 years. This gentleman managed to subsist on the streets from the well-intentioned, yet counterproductive efforts of the local community. From time to time, he swept up around a business. People occasionally gave him spare change or food. Years passed. The City’s Changing Lives and Sharing Places (CLASP) homeless outreach team offered him options to street life and access to treatment for two years before he said, “It’s time.” However, by then he was so ill he went directly to the hospital where he died the following Sunday. We were deeply saddened by his death but comforted to know that he died under the care of a compassionate team that treated him with dignity and respect. There was comfort but no room for complacency. We knew there had to be a better way.
When we learned about the Home for Good approach from management of homelessness to housing first to end homelessness, it resonated with us at a deep level. Most of the people we serve are not candidates for short-term shelter but could thrive with supportive services to stabilize them. Our homeless outreach is in support of a regional responsibility for people in need, not resident-based. The homeless individuals in Beverly Hills are not residents who have moved from their house to their car to the street and need help. The individuals we work with are primarily mentally ill people who come here by word-of-mouth knowing that it is clean and safe and they will not be hassled. We work closely with our local faith-based community who provide a variety of meal services, police department to monitor their safety, and maintain a vulnerability index through our CLASP team to prioritize accordingly to offer services.
It is a surprise to most people that over 68% of Beverly Hills residents rent. There is a lot of competition for affordable housing in the rental market which increases the difficulty in placing homeless individuals within the city. We take every opportunity to advocate that landlords consider Section 8 housing. The Home for Good strategies and outcome results are extremely helpful in reaching out to our community and opening the minds…and hopefully the doors…of our community!
Julie Oliver Kahn is a Human Services Outreach Manager for the City of Beverly Hills.