BLOG: Home for Good

Meet Joanna

Joanna Bomba recently joined our team as a Program Associate. She comes to us from the LA Mission where helped co-lead the CES Skid Row team during the first pilots of the system. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego with a degree in Therapeutic and Community Psychology.

_Joanna BombaWhat are you currently working on with Home For Good?

I have the opportunity to do the loveliest balancing act ever! I spend half of my time working on the budding Coordinated Entry Systems in and around Los Angeles County, and the other half working with the innovative Funders Collaborative.

Why are you interested in working to end chronic and Veteran homelessness in LA County?

The level of collaboration, research, and innovation around ending homelessness is not only exciting, but unprecedented in Los Angeles. I have stellar parents who instilled in us the responsibility to, however possible, help people in need. My mother began working in Skid Row when I was in high school, my sister currently is doing astounding work at Downtown Women’s Center, and on my first day in Skid Row working with the homeless population, I was not interested on focusing 50+ hours per week on anything else until homelessness was eradicated in Los Angeles. For me, it feels deeper than interest; I feel called to do this work.

What is your favorite food?

Yelp and I have a great relationship, so trying to pick a favorite food is like trying to pick a favorite Beatles song. It absolutely depends on the current season, mood or place I have just traveled. This month I have had killer cravings for vegetable green curry and grilled calamari.

What is your favorite movie or t.v. show?

My guilty pleasures are movies about the romance and gangsters of the 1940s, any well done Period Piece, and classic black & white films. But, I sheepishly will admit that my favorite will forever be Joe Wright’s version of Pride & Prejudice. The film score, cinematography, cast and most everything about that movie allows me to escape to a Jane Austen world.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would like to possess the power to slow down and speed up time by simply snapping my fingers. Especially in recent years, there were moments that made me want to lasso the moon and others that had me wishing I could give the sun a little push.

Reflecting on Kelly Thomas

One Story Can Create Ripples…

There are certain events that ripple through communities, changing minds and touching hearts. The 2011 death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man in Fullerton, has become one of these flashpoints.

Kelly Thomas lived on the streets, mostly invisible to the community around him until the night he was killed and his name became a fixture in conversations and news stories across the Southland. The story of his death has been inextricably linked with his homelessness and his physical and mental health issues, which were at times sadly used by the defense in the officers’ case.

This past week, the trial came to an end with the acquittal of two officers, and with this unfortunate decision, Kelly Thomas’ story seemed to conclude…but NO! We must move forward with the memories of these individuals as our momentum. We must come together for those Kelly Thomas’ on our streets to link them to the permanent housing and support services they need to successfully move from street to home. We must ensure all of our systems are fully equipped to respond with compassion and understanding to individuals struggling with mental health problems on our streets

Kelly Thomas was seen too late to receive essential services, but there is still time to see and support the rest of our homeless neighbors. Please take a moment to reflect on the death of Kelly Thomas, but don’t stop there…join in the solution and help turn his ripples into waves!

CES Update: Over 1700 and Counting!

Just 60 days ago, 7 community teams join the original Skid Row pilot team in working to design a system to change the way homeless are identified, assessed and assisted across Los Angeles County. A system called the Coordinated Entry System.

What is CES?

The Coordinate Entry System, better known as CES is an accessible and innovative program by which persons experiencing homelessness and organizations providing housing find each other in a systematic and efficient manner. CES helps navigate people through the housing system faster and helps prevent new entries into homelessness. It improves data collection and provides accurate information on what type of assistance clients may need.

The goal is to create a system that guarantees individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County, rapid and accurate housing.

The Scale Up

After two pilot rounds in Skid Row, the effort was scaled up into 7 other communities with a three-day kick-off event in early November. The following communities have since been working to create outreach systems, identify resources and assess as many individuals as possible to incorporate into the system:

  • SPA 2 San Fernando Valley: North Hollywood and Sun Valley, Sylmar
  • SPA 3 San Gabriel Valley: Pasadena
  • SPA 4 Metro: Hollywood and East Hollywood
  • SPA 4 Metro: Skid Row
  • SPA 5 West: Santa Monica and Venice
  • SPA 6 South: Watts and Western South LA
  • SPA 7 East: 13 of 27 Gateway Cities COG
  • SPA 8 South Bay: Harbor City and San Pedro

Results So Far

As of early January, over 1700 surveys of the VI-SPDAT, the tool used to assess individuals and recommend the appropriate level of intervention, had been submitted through the CES system. Of those collected recently through the outreach efforts of the scale up communities, almost 35% were at the highest acuity levels leading to a recommendation for permanent supportive housing.

Though there are a total of eight teams on the ground level, there is one more team, the Systems team, which is working to clear barriers and maximize housing opportunities across the board. This team is working to orient new developers, encourage current providers to transition their waitlists, and identify funding and housing resources that can be folded into the CES System. At today’s meeting, two developers, A Community of Friends (ACOF) and LA Family Housing, shared about their current efforts to transition ALL of their current housing waitlists into the CES system in the next few months! An exciting promise that more and more developers are committing to, providing necessary vacancies for those in our system who are most in need.

The numbers are growing and the opportunities are expanding through CES.

We look forward to continuing to update you on the work of the CES teams and those that they are helping.  

Volunteer Spotlight: Kenny Oden

Kenny Oden is a native Angeleno and social entrepreneur, who for the past six months has brought his experience and passion to our Home For Good Companionship Program, which connects newly housed individuals to volunteers for the support they need to successfully make this transition.

Kenny 2Tell us a little about yourself?

I graduated from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. degree in Educational Leadership and Policy. For the past 10 years I have mentored youth encouraging and assisting them to create and reach their goals. In addition, I am a business owner of a motivational clothing called 2wenty5eight, which encourages everyone to maximize their time and space to make an impact in the world, “finding the extra hour, creating the extra day.”

What made you join the Companionship Program?

I joined the companionship program because I wanted to challenge myself to do something outside of my comfort zone. With the aid of a partner who knew about the program suggested it would be the challenge I looked for, which turned out to be correct.

How was your experience in the program?

It has been an eye-opening challenge and learning experience of growth for me. A challenge that I experienced is connecting with my partner and having a great time and then the disappearing effect that disrupted our communication pattern for some time. Once this happen it almost felt like the momentum of the relationship was ceased and had to be recreated and engaged on my end which was a bit odd but did not deter me.

Has the program impacted your views on homelessness?

The program has impacted my views on homelessness by providing me with a lens beyond the surface. I thought homelessness had a distinct look and behavior, while in cases this is true, my experience was the opposite exposing me to the multiple complexities of homelessness the challenges systematically and individually by those that experience it. For this experience I am forever grateful to have learned more about homelessness.

Based on your experience what are some of your thoughts on building relationships and connections with one another?

Building relationships requires one to be genuine kind and reasonable. To effectively build relationships one must seek to listen first before speaking. The ability to deal with the social highs and lows of the human experience should be expected. There is no formal blueprint for the experience besides desire to treat others the way they would like to be treated. And if all is done there still may be a chance for slim success, but the experience is still rewarding.

CES in Action: SRO Housing’s Gateways Apartments

2013scanph_pic17With the close of the second 100 Days of work on the Coordinated Entry System (CES) in Skid Row, which piloted the program, and the recent launch of the first 100 Days for another 7 community teams, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a partner who recently brought the CES work into reality for over 80 formerly homeless individuals.

Home For Good partner, SRO Housing, recently opened the Gateways Apartments (5th and San Pedro) in the heart of the Skid Row community. With a long-standing commitment to permanent supportive housing and services, Gateways served as SRO Housing’s 29th housing project in Los Angeles. The project resulted in 108 new units of permanent supportive housing for those in need, and was highlighted by many sources including in a November LA Times article.

As part of the effort to identify and fill these vacancies, SRO Housing gracefully took on the challenge of dedicating 80 units to be filled through the Coordinated Entry System. Over eight days, volunteers and staff from various organizations interviewed more than 300 returning applicants, previously on the waitlist for the building. This allowed units to be assigned based on those with the highest acuity and greatest immediate need, and provided an opportunity for those who did not end up being placed at that location to be identified and assessed for future housing opportunities. This was the first, of many, housing developments that adopted CES into its process, with SRO Housing setting an amazing example for a community working hard to incorporate this coordinated effort!  

PatriciaThanks to SRO Housing’s commitment to long-term change in the community and openness to incorporating CES this was a huge success; based not just on the numbers, butHome for the Holidays!_Patricia(1) the stories of those housed. One individual assessed through CES and eventually housed in SRO Housing’s Gateways Apartments is Patricia. She was assessed through the CES tool called the VI-SPDAT and assisted with the housing process by her Housing Navigator. Due to her level of need and the overall fit with SRO’s housing unit type, Patricia was matched to one of the 80 vacancies in the new Gateways Apartments. After 11 years of homelessness, Patricia was overcome with emotion as she accepted the keys to her new apartment.


Learn more about Coordinated Entry System and how your community is making change for those most in need by visiting our CES webpage.

Home for the Holidays!_Patricia(1)

Home for the Holidays!_Patricia(1)

Marti’s Message

Marti McFall is the National Logistics Systems and Business Controls Manager at Toyota Motor Sales, USA. For the past 6 months, she has been participating in the Home For Good Companionship Program, which connected dedicated volunteers with newly housed individuals over the last six months for support in their transition and a lasting connection to begin their new life. 


photo 2Tell us a little about yourself

I have worked for a Fortune 100 for the past thirty-five years and life has been very good to me.  Throughout my years I have been very passionate and involved “paying it forward”.

What made you join the Companionship Program?

My passion for homelessness amplified when I became involved in an organization that assisted homeless veterans.  I learned of the statistics at that time, which were astounding.  As I’ve witnessed in in recent years, it can be any of us at any time.  To quote my daughter, “we’re all a dollar away”.

How is your experience been so far?

My experience in this program has been extremely positive for both myself and my companion.  We often comment that “we feel we have known one another a lifetime”.  Her life experiences are those of many and being able to make a difference in today is rewarding and a true blessing.

How has the program impacted your views on homelessness?

The program offered fabulous training the first time we convened, providing statistics and behaviors of which I was unaware.  My fear of the homeless and the disorders that are attached to some, has waned dramatically.  It’s amazing how far direct eye contact, a smile and a “good morning” can go.


To learn more about volunteering with Home For Good and its partners, please click HERE.

Over 10,000 Housed!

We are officially over 10,000 people housed!

Check out the progress below and in our Year 3, Quarter 3 Report!


Y3Q3 Final Image

Giving Tuesday: Let’s House Someone!

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of philanthropy where compassionate people across the nation contribute to the work impacting their community. For Giving Tuesday, we are launching our new campaign of “100-Days of Homelessness” with a small challenge…let’s move someone in to housing today! 

Together we can raise $2,000 in one day to move someone into a home for the holidays!

Select DONATE on the menu located in the column on the right to give today!

Give Today Pic

For $2,000, we can make sure that ONE chronic and veteran homeless client will have the security deposit, fees, and basic home goods and furnishings they need in order to successfully move into the housing they have been waiting for.

Donate now and, stay tuned for more information on our 100-Days of Homelessness campaign and how you can continue to volunteer, advocate and give in support of Home For Good!

Tis the Season for Standards Training

Happy Holidays everyone! We’re wrapping up 2013 with some great seminars, including a repeat of the very popular “Working with People who are Actively Using Substances.” Space will be very limited at these trainings, so please try to limit your organization/ program’s registration to the 2-3 most critical staff. Download the December Training Flier and register TODAY at Registration is REQUIRED for attendance.

Tuesday, December 17

In the  Santa Monica area (final location TBA soon)

9 AM to 12 PM: “Working with People who are Actively Using Substances”

This session is for Outreach, Shelter and Permanent Supportive Housing providers. With a focus on harm reduction strategies and goal oriented planning. Techniques for housing access, eviction prevention and housing stabilization will be discussed.

1:30 PM to 4:30 PM: “Critical Time Intervention”

This session is for staff that assists homeless individuals and families to transition into and maintains housing. Topics include: an overview of the evidence-based practice of CTI, implementation strategies for a range of settings, tools, and organizational support for the practice. 


Wednesday, December 18

At Harbor Interfaith Services (670 W. 9th St.  San Pedro, CA 90731)

9 AM to 12 PM: “Engagement and Voluntary Services”

This session is for Outreach, Shelter and Permanent Supportive Housing providers. Topics include: engagement/ re-engagement process, finding common ground, goal setting, negotiating role of the worker, a discussion of engagement of people with active psychiatric symptoms and/or who are actively using substances.

1:30 PM to 4:30 PM: “Critical Time Intervention”

This session is for staff that assists homeless individuals and families to transition into and maintains housing. Topics include: an overview of the evidence-based practice of CTI, implementation strategies for a range of settings, tools, and organizational support for the practice. 



Please register at


Why I Walk: Liz Ul

Liz Why I WalkWhen first asked why I decided to participate in HomeWalk, I didn’t have a profound answer. I thought it was as simple as supporting the cause of ending homelessness, but with more time I tapped into a narrative that was buried underneath, almost forgotten. My childhood was filled with a pattern of unstable housing situations, making me wonder how different my life could have been with a consistent place to call home while growing up. As Cambodian refugees, abruptly forced out of our homeland, my family experienced financial hardship during their resettlement in the United States. This translated into various housing situations; a couple pleasant, the majority not.

When my family first arrived to the U.S. they were placed in an apartment with limited bedrooms, but plenty of people. Ten recently arrived refugees to one or two bedroom apartments was the norm. Another time, we lived in a Section 8 apartment, which were really converted military barracks. My fondest housing memory was a four bedroom house with intergenerational and extended family members in each bedroom, but even that was short-lived due to a house fire.

Although my housing transitions were excessive and at times traumatic, I was fortunate to always have a safe place to rest my head, a place that I could call home with my family around me. Not everyone is so lucky though. I know that rarely when we think of the homeless we imagine entire families out on the streets, but in reality homeless families comprise one-third of the homeless population in our nation. In honor of my family and other families similar to my own, you are in my thoughts and I walk for you.


“Why do you walk?” I walk for all families, immigrant and native,

that have no home to go to or safe refuge in times of need.


Please visit to register or give today in support of ending homelessness in LA!


Elizabeth Ul is a new United Way intern supporting Home for Good. She is in her final year at UCLA, studying for her Masters of Social Welfare.

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