BLOG: Home for Good
Why Do We Work to End Homelessness? The following is a letter from Christine Marge, Director of Home For Good, please read and share this story and join the movement by walking in support of Home For Good’s work to end chronic and veteran homelessness by signing up for HomeWalk on November 15th at www.homewalkla.org:
This morning I was writing and reflecting on my week – what we had accomplished, where I had fallen short, and what had touched me along the way. I had a powerful reminder this week of why I do this work and why I love my job, and I wanted to share that story with you.
Each Friday, we’ll share a story – yours and ours – with the hope of connecting the threads of what knits us together as a community and as a movement. What’s your “why?” What inspires you to keep doing this work every day? Share your stories with us by emailing email@example.com.
I met Mark as I was walking home from work this week. He approached me with tears in his eyes, saying he felt like “a big baby” – at least 6 feet tall, strong, in his late 40s or 50s. He was released from prison the day before, and while sleeping on Skid Row that night, he was kicked in the jaw and robbed of the few belongings he had left, and woke up to the feeling of his arm pulled in one direction as they took his backpack and his leg in another as they took the shoes off his feet.
He started crying harder as he said, “my mom died while I was in. I just want my mom…”
I listened, tears in my eyes, as he shared more. At the end of our conversation, I walked away in awe of the beauty of this man willing to set aside his pride in favor of connection. It’s hard to express without sounding trite or cliche what a profound gift that was to me.
I feel the urgency around ending homelessness every day, which is the “what” of my job, but moments like these remind me that the transformative power of human connection is at the heart of why I do it.
My purpose is sharing this story is to communicate the heart of why I do this work, but a few of you also asked what happened to Mark. Here’s what I’ve shared:
He felt ok about finding somewhere safe to sleep that night, so I asked him to call me the next morning if he still wanted/needed connection to a more permanent place to live. He didn’t call. And I was at peace with that, knowing that wherever he is, he knows that someone in the world cared enough to listen and that the line is open if he wants/needs it.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to Danielle Wildkress from CSH who focuses on reentry work and responded immediately to my question of where Mark could go for help. She linked me to Doug Bond and Alan Richards at Amity Foundation who were willing to connect with Mark right away and support him. Peggy Edwards of UHHP and LARRP also reached out to let me know of great resources for Mark.
So there’s a network here for Mark. That’s what I love about this job. Each of you, wanting to do everything you can to be that network of hope and love!
It is a record breaking year for the Home For Good Funders Collaborative!
The Home For Good Funders Collaborative is a core group of local public and private funding and policy leaders, including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Weingart Foundation, LA County Departments of Mental Health & Health Services, Housing Authority of the City of LA, Veterans Administration of Greater LA and many more (listed below). In its third year of funding, permanent supportive housing and systematic solutions to homelessness in LA, major public and private funders came together this year to coordinate a record $213 million to support 24 organizations and expand regional efforts around Coordinated Entry System (CES). As Steve Hilton, President & CEO of the Hilton Foundation stated, “We believe the implementation of the Coordinated Entry System throughout the county will have a dramatic and rapid impact on chronic and veteran homelessness in every corner of the L.A. region.” Coordinated Entry System began last year in Skid Row with a community-led pilot with support from Community Solutions and Rapid Results Institute, and grew to 7 communities throughout the county incorporating over 60 organizations in the last year. The Collaborative’s support will help this community-designed and policy-supported system of change, continue to expand to include all areas of LA county and all populations in need of housing and supportive services.
Additionally, the grants of the Funders Collaborative will ensure that 1,400 new individuals are permanently housed with all of the support services they need to be successful. These housing opportunities will offer support for up to 15 years of housing and support for those who need it most.
Funders Collaborative Members:
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, United Way of Greater LA, Weingart Foundation, Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation, Jewish Community Foundation LA, California Community Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, UniHealth Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners, Corporation for Supportive Housing
City of Pasadena, Housing Authority of the City of LA, LA Community Investment Department, LA County Housing Authority, LA County Departments of Mental Health & Health Services, Veterans Administration of Greater LA, LA County Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe
2014-2015 Funded Partners: A Community of Friends, Antelope Valley Domestic Violence Council, Ascencia, Clifford Beers Housing, Door of Hope, Downtown Women’s Center, Emotional Health Association (SHARE!), Harbor Interfaith Services Inc, Homeless Health Care LA, L.A.F.H. Temporary Housing Corporation, Lamp Inc, Mental Health America of LA, Mercy Housing California, Ocean Park Community Center, Our Place Housing Solutions, Path Venture, PATH, SFV Community Mental Health Center, SRO Housing Corporation, Skid Row Housing Trust, Special Services Groups (HOPICS), St Joseph Center, Step Up on Second, Union Station Homeless Services
Read the full press release: Funders Collaborative Press Release 09.09.14
Join us on September 17th at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood for a night featuring
art reflecting the issue of homelessness in LA!
Join us for a series of FREE trainings throughout the Fall for United Way partners and local nonprofit service providers! Read through the list of trainings and sign up today! Space is limited.
HIGH ACUITY CLIENTS
Presented by Housing Innovations
TRAINING TOPICS: TBA (based on results of community survey)
SPDAT & VI-SPDAT
Presented by Iain de Jong, OrgCode, Inc
FISCAL & ORGANIZATIONAL MANAGEMENT
Presented by NPO Solutions
Training intended for Executive Directors, and Financial and Board Leadership
SPECIAL TRAINING: Becoming a VITA Site in 2015
Presented by Koreatown Youth & Community Center (KYCC)
Training intended for organizations in Antelope Valley interested in becoming a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites during the 2015 tax season.
||AV Transit Authority
|TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Sites interested in becoming a VITA location will be supported up to and during the 2015 tax season by KYCC staff
Below is a letter from Christine Marge, Director of Home For Good, reflecting on the Unite For Veterans Summit on July 16, 2014, which brought together providers, partners, and supporters from across LA and the nation to rally around ending veteran unemployment and homelessness:
Home For Good Partners,
Three and a half years ago, our community came together around the Home For Good vision of making Los Angeles a place where no one is forgotten, no one worries about having a warm, safe place of their own to sleep each night.
At Wednesday’s Unite For Veterans Summit, our community’s tremendous progress was acknowledged by our First Lady, Michelle Obama. In her inspiring remarks, she acknowledged, “Here in LA, the United Way and Chamber of Commerce have brought public and private partners together for an incredible program called Home For Good – and together, you have housed more than 9,000 veterans since 2011.” (Watch her full speech by clicking here)
The best part of the day was seeing so many of you brimming with pride during and after that moment, knowing you played a part in this transformation.
As Laura Zeilinger, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, reminded us in her thoughtful opening remarks, “the cost of doing nothing is never nothing.” I appreciate that each of you is committed to doing something – whether it be outreaching to people on our streets, providing mental health care, volunteering to provide companionship, contributing resources to our Collaborative, advocating for policy change, working to streamline Coordinated Entry, or walking at HomeWalk, you’re a critical part of this movement we’ve built together.
We were thrilled to see Mayor Garcetti rising confidently to the challenge from our First Lady as he signed on to the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and expressed his commitment to partnering with us to reach Home For Good’s goals. He acknowledged the great power of L.A. in saying, “The greatest force multiplier we have in this town is 10 million souls that are committed to marching to that same point on the horizon, and to ending this battle and winning it for good.”
And yes, just as important as the tangible progress we’ve made together – housing over 14,000 people, including 9,000 veterans, harnessing over $360M in public and private funds for solutions, creating a coordinated entry system that’s a model for cities across the country – is the community we’ve built together, our persistence in reaching our goals, and the heart each of you brings to all we do. That’s what I felt most proud of this week.
So on behalf of the Home For Good team here at United Way and the Chamber and our Business Leaders Task Force, we thank you. We hope you, too, felt great pride as our collective efforts were lifted up on Wednesday. Special thanks to our co-sponsors at USC’s Price School of Public Policy and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, all of our inspiring speakers, and each of you, for doing the often thankless work you do each day. We see you, and we are so grateful for you.
In the words of Matthew Smith, the inspiring New Directions’ case manager who shared his journey with us on Wednesday, “I am proud beyond words that I now get to offer to other veterans every day the solution that was offered to me, and that is to COME HOME.”
We still have much work ahead of us, but I have no doubt that we will continue to lead the way for Los Angeles and for the nation by coming together to ensure we are all home for good.
Director, Home For Good
In Antelope Valley, community organizations are working collaboratively with law enforcement to train and support officers to effectively and compassionately respond to calls for mental health situations.
In 2013, an Antelope Valley Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force was created to equip law enforcement personnel and first responders in managing mental health situations in the field. With Home For Good partner, Mental Health America, coordinating this diverse group of public agencies, law enforcement, first responders, and local service providers, they have made impressive headway in promoting peaceful interactions on the streets. Over its first year, the Task Force organized and executed trainings on a variety of issues including: recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness, effective communication skills with the mentally ill, self-care and stigma. Additionally, they were able to create a useful “Pocket Resource Guide for First Responders in the Antelope Valley” as a reference and referral guide for anyone in the area to utilize.
As a result of these efforts, the group reported that 306 sheriff’s deputies were trained on more empathetically responding to mental health-related calls. This new approach has already led to several deputies receiving positive accommodation for their effective management of mental health-related situations. In a recent week where three separate officer-involved incidents that could have easily ended “lethally” the situations were deescalated by first responders, saving the lives of several individuals, including a 17-year-old teenager in Palmdale. The Task Force will continue to work collaboratively across public and non-profit sectors to increase the number of successful interactions between first responders and those with mental illness for the betterment of all living in the Greater Antelope Valley Community.
Congratulations to the Antelope Valley Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force!
Law Enforcement Mental Health Task Force Members: Mental Health America – Antelope Valley Enrichment Services, Lancaster and Palmdale Sheriff Stations, California Highway Patrol, cities of Lancaster and Palmdale Public Safety Offices, Edwards Air Force Base Security Forces, LA County Department of Mental Health, LA County Mental Health Commission, Penny Lane, Child and Family Guidance Center, Optimist Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness
Click to learn more about mental health and homelessness homelessness and mental illness.
Event Description: A two-fold event collecting furnishing, housewares and move-in kit materials for United Way partners working to move people into permanent housing.
Dates To Note:
- June 13-20th- Furnish the Homeless Hosts Drive at UCLA
- June 15-20th- Furniture and houseware deliveries made to partners, as available
- June 20th- United Way Day of Action to assemble move-in kits (Location: TBD)
- After June 20th- Kits available for pick up or delivery
MOVE IN KITS
For United Way Day of Action (June 20), corporate partners will collect supplies at their offices and come together to sort and organize supplies that will be distributed to partners who are interested.
Collections will take place at corporate partners’ offices throughout the month, with location of sorting on June 20th to be determined. Move-in kits can be delivered to or picked up can be arranged with any United Way partner.
COLLECTIONS: Welcome Home Kit supplies (eg. toiletries, towels, plates, etc)
PARTNER REQUIREMENTS: Notify United Way of the number of kits you would ideally like to have (*actual distributions may depend on supplies and interest). Communicate with United Way staff to arrange delivery or pick up from downtown offices.
UCLA Furnish the Homeless collections, students will be collecting new and like-new furnishings and housewares on and around the UCLA campus on June 13th- June 20th and will be delivering them directly to clients moving into new and turnover units.
Furniture collections will be made at and around UCLA campus by Furnish the Homeless, with deliveries being made to partners located through the County (preference for organizations within 15 miles of campus and/or organizations accepting multiple donations).
COLLECTING: Gently Used Furnishings; Donated and Like New home goods (* No mattresses will be collected)
PARTNER REQUIREMENTS: Work with United Way to identify client needs and delivery addresses at minimum 1 week prior to the collection week. Communicate with United Way staff leading up to and on the delivery date. Have staff (when applicable) available to accept delivery. All organizations welcome to email interest, preference for organizations within 15-20 miles of campus or accepting multiple donations
If you are interested in this great opportunity for move-in supplies and kits, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than May 23rd
Last month, United Way Program Officer Zahirah Mann and Home For Good intern, Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Ul led a Veterans Group at this year’s CSH Lobby Day. This day of action brought together housing provider leadership, staff and residents, with local and state legislators to advocate for bills focusing on creating affordable housing for California residents. Legislative visits focused on two important pieces of legislation currently under consideration: Senate Bill 391 CA Homes & Jobs Act (D-DeSaulnier) and Assembly Bill 2061 Foster Care Prevention (D-Chau).
Our group educated politicians and advocated for support of SB 391 (CA Homes and Jobs Act), which is estimated to generate upwards of $500 billion dollars towards affordable housing, in addition to 29,000 new jobs in the construction sector. Housing advocates pointed to SB 391 as another piece of the solution, which will reallocate much needed, and currently unutilized, funding to alleviate gaps in housing for our Veterans. Additionally, our group discussed another bill, AB 2061, which focuses on foster care prevention by allocating funding towards housing assistance for Public Child Welfare involved families. According to CSH, “As many as 30% of children in foster care could be reunited with families if the family had access to a safe place to live, demonstrating homelessness is a barrier to family reunification.” Discussion on the importance of these two bills to provide valuable resources in support of these populations is vital to ending homelessness amongst veterans and foster youth.
All California Assembly Member offices (Salas-D, Brown-D, Muratsuchi-D, Gorrel-R, and Fox-D) that United Way was able to meet with displayed positive interest in the bills and continuing to educate themselves prior to making a decision. These elected officials though rely on their local constituents and community members to inform their ultimate decisions. Californians can take action by contacting their local legislative representatives to support these important bills. Learn how to send your own letter of support to your local representative here.
The 1200+ advocacy letters in support of SB 391-The California Homes and Jobs Act, that United Way collected at HomeWalk 2013 were delivered this month to assembly members and will soon be sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Currently, SB 391 sits in Assembly Appropriations and needs the mobilization of California constituents to apply pressure on their local assembly members to get this act passed. There has not been movement since August 2013, which means SB 391 advocates are working on a “6 Weeks of Action” which includes getting petitions signed and calling, emailing and snail mailing your local assembly persons to let them know how much we want affordable homes and jobs in California.
The act, will impose a small $75 fee on real estate transactions (excluding home sales) and will help to generate upwards of $500 million dollars to help with our housing crisis in California. This funding stream will also generate 29,000 new jobs in the construction sector as well. More homes and jobs through the California Homes and Jobs Act means less tax payer dollars towards preventing and managing homelessness at a higher cost further down the road
Thank you to all 1200+ HomeWalkers who signed the letter in support of SB 391!
Didn’t get a chance to sign the advocacy letter? Sign this petition to make homes and jobs a priority in 2014!
Additional information sessions are being held on the CES funding area specifically. For more, please click HERE.