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Celebrating Supportive Housing

Home For Good Intern Elizabeth Ul Home For Good Director Christine Marge Co-Chair Home For Good Jerry NeumanOn Monday, March 3rd,  our intern Liz Ul joined Director, Christine Marge, and Business Leaders Co-Chair Jerry Neuman the openning of a newly renovated permanent supportive housing project in South LA and brought back this review of the event and the partnerships that brought this project together. 
 
 

Monday’s grand opening celebrated the successful renovation of a formerly blighted property in South Los Angeles into a 56 units of permanent supportive housing. The property which opened in August of 2013, is a mixed-use building that houses formerly, chronically homeless individuals and families. During the event, project partners urged the work to continue, highlighting that this type of successful collaboration needs to be replicated if we want to solve our homelessness crisis in Los Angeles County.  

At the event, residents of the building, gave moving testimonies providing great insight into the struggles of their experience living on the streets and  how their dignity, physical and mental health was restored once they had a place to call home. One resident, Sal Tovar, brought guests into his apartment with a big, “Welcome to my home!,” explaining that he hasn’t been able to say those words in many years. As Home For Good Business Leaders Task Force Co-Chair, Jerry Neuman, closed his speech, he acknowledged the struggles of the over 58,000 people, like Sal, living on our streets in LA County, and closed with an heartfelt, “Sal, you are Home For Good.”

This project was made possible by City of LA & HCID, HACLA, Housing Works, West Bay Housing Corp., the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Home For Good Funders Collaborative, Restore Neighborhoods LA and Insite Design Group. It is truly an example of a successful collaboration across sectors. Thanks again to our partners and all those in attendance to celebrate the opening and to those residents that were kind enough to share their stories!

Co-Chair Home For Good Jerry NeumanLiz and James ResidentThank You Sign

Social Media Trainings

It’s time to get social! With online platforms becoming the best way for organizations and individuals to connect & share, you can’t ignore the power of the post. Learn to maximize your efforts online through our series of webinars & coaching sessions with See3 Communications & Kindling Group.

 

Who Should Attend?: These trainings are perfect for social media staff and interns, as well as development and marketing staff and leadership! 

         
Upcoming Training Webinars

   Building a Social Culture (Wed, Mar 12, 2014 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PT) – RSVP
      
   Measuring Your Impact (Wed, March 19, 2014 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PT) – RSVP
   
   Social Media for Events (Wed, Apr 2, 2014 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PT) – RSVP
  

Coaching Sessions

   Session #1 (Wed, Mar 5, 2014 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PT) – RSVP
  
   Session #2 (Wed, Mar 26, 2014 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PT) – RSVP
   
   Session #3 (Wed, Apr 9, 2014 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM PT) – RSVP

CES Request for Proposals Information Sessions

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FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO RSVP FOR ANY OF THE SESSIONS LISTED ABOVE, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

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JOIN THE MEETING ON THURSDAY FEBRURARY 27th by clicking bit.ly/Feb27Webinar!

Meet Tina!

photoKerestian ‘Tina’ Estedabadi recently graduated from California State University, Northridge with her Masters in Social Work. Tina may be new to this position, but she has been a member of the Home For Good team for a while, previously interning with us and coordinating the Companionship Program.
 

What are you currently working on with Home For Good?

I am a Program Assistant, and I will provide both programmatic and administrative support to the Housing Stability team.

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

Los Angeles County is my home…it also houses more than 58,000 people who sleep on its streets on any given night. This is a huge problem given the fact that sleeping on the streets causes emotional, physical and mental scars on the people who do not have any other option. I take pride in my city and I want to be part of a solution that will put an end to this issue. Together we can end chronic and veteran homelessness!!!

What do you do for fun?

I really enjoy watching movies at the ArcLight Cinemas. I also enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. I recently made cinnamon swirl pancakes….it was amazing!

What is your favorite food?

Food is my favorite food! I love Persian food, Italian food, and Sushi. I also enjoy finding new restaurants. Right now, I am being more health conscious, so I have been trying out healthy restaurants…LYFE Kitchen and Real Food Daily are my two new favorite spots.

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

I have a variety of favorite movies and TV shows. I enjoy watching comedy, action, mystery, and thriller movies…just this past year alone my favorites have been Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor and the Wolf of Wall Street…right now I am very excited about the upcoming 300-Rise of an Empire and The Amazing Spider Man 2!!!

Mythbusting Mental Illness

Myth_Orange_TransparentMental illness is closely associated with homelessness in the minds of most Americans. It is little understood and rarely discussed leading to the development of unwarranted stereotypes and a fear of the homeless. In the first of a series of blogs on mental illness and homelessness, we look at the main myths that our society has created and the reality on our streets.
 

MYTH: All homeless people are mentally unstable.

FACT: While mental illness is a serious issue for those living on our streets, only 30% of the homeless in LA County actually have a mental illness. This is only slightly more than the general population of America, where 1 in 5 confront some kind of mental health issue in their lifetime.

MYTH: Even if they don’t have a mental illness, they are all on drugs right?

FACT: No, in fact only 3 in 10 people experiencing homelessness actually have a substance abuse issue. Some of those within this group of users has also turned to drugs as a way to self medicate due to a larger, untreated mental health issue.

MYTH: When I see someone on the streets, I am afraid. People with mental illness are dangerous.

FACT: There is no reason to be unnaturally afraid when you see someone on the streets. Majority of people you see do not have a mental illness. Even those with mental illness are no more likely to cause you harm than the average person you pass. In fact, people with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than to commit one.

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Home For Good supports many organizations working to provide comprehensive services to those who need them and works closely with policymakers to ensure that those who need mental health services are reached. Below are just a few of Home For Good’s partners working to provide mental health services to those on our streets that need it:

 

COMING UP NEXT: Stay tuned the rest of our blog series on mental health! In the coming weeks, we will discuss the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, spotlight the story of those with mental illness, and highlight the work of some of our great partners.

 

 

Client Corner: Daniel from SRO Housing

Daniel Castilleja is a HomeWalk Champion, an advocate for housing and support services, a writer, and a formerly homeless individual helped back onto his feet by Home For Good partner, SRO Housing. Daniel was kind enough to be a guest blogger for us and share his personal story below…
 

My Experience & Reason…

By: Daniel Castilleja

Daniel FinalNever judge a man till you have been in his shoes. You know that they are so quick to look away, because it’s the easy thing to do. This is what I live by today.

What I do now is volunteer for causes I believe in, and one of them is to end homelessness in L.A. and the rest of the World. When I was asked by S.R.O.to participate & represent them at the United Way HomeWalk, I was honored and excited. I raised about $700 on my own, and was told later that I was the top fundraiser for Team S.R.O. It was good to know, but that is not the reason why I asked for donations. It was to help United Way raise money to end homelessness in L.A.

I was homeless about 2 ½ years ago, due to losing my job. I slept in my Land Rover, and then eventually lost it due to not paying the tickets I would get for parking in places I could sleep at. After losing my vehicle, I found an apartment complex and slept in the stairwell with only the clothes I had on. Days went by without eating and showering. I remember how people would look at me with ugly looks and would say comments that would make me feel even lesser than I already did. A smile or a nice comment makes your day a lot better than a dirty look or bad comment.

I now live in a beautiful apartment complex called The James Woods Apartments in Skid row, owned by S.R.O. Housing. I see homeless people every day I step out of my building, and as always I smile and say good morning. I just want them to know that I’m not judging them and that I’m not like the people that don’t speak to them because they are homeless. I offer my help by doing little things like when I save my aluminum cans and pass them out, or when I have clothes, shoes or sometimes food and a little extra change, I can afford to give out.

If you knew me, then you would know I’m pretty ambitious and that I don’t give up that easily. So don’t be surprised if what I say now comes true…I believe one day everyone will have a place of their own, where they won’t have to sleep out on the street, and this makes me feel great inside!

Daniel generously dedicated his piece to everyone at United Way of Greater LA and S.R.O. Housing for their ongoing efforts to end homelessness in Los Angeles.

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.  

All content © 2014 United Way of Greater Los Angeles