1. Why was Would Works’ established?
Would-Works was established to address a need for the men and women who come to or live in the Skid Row area. Through my work in Skid Row, I heard over and over that men and women “would work” if they could. Over the past few years, it seems that social service agencies are losing funding, day labor agencies are overrun and manufacturing jobs have long-since left the Skid Row area. We wanted to offer a new solution. We wanted to create a way for men and women to work for a specific goal while creating hand-finished products.
2. How is Would Works helping homeless individuals transform their lives?
At Would-Works, we address the immediate need. Often when someone is homeless or living in poverty, they are so consumed with their immediate needs, they don’t have the opportunity to create a long-term plan. We want to relieve the immediate financial stress by offering a way to work for a specific goal, while helping the individual create a long-term plan. We call the individuals we employ “Artisans” which is a skilled craftsperson. Through this process we work to give the individuals we employ a new skill, confidence, and a sense of community.
3. What role does housing play in the lives of homeless individuals that Would Works employs?
We want to allow people the opportunity to work and change their situation. Often we see men and women who need to work for things that are barriers to housing. They can work for a new ID, for their security deposit, or for items in their new home. Housing is often an eventual goal of the men and women we employ. We want to help to elevate barriers to housing by offering a way to work.
4. What is Would Works’ favorite tree and why?
We love working with oak and maple as evidence by the products on our website. These trees are more sustainable than other trees and we love the look. Our Artisans work by hand-finish boards in both oak and maple, so we have multiple options for cutting board styles. If one can’t decide which wood they like better, we also have our Five-Stripe board which combines both woods.
Connor Johnson is the Founder of Would-Works. For more information visit www.would-works.com
1. What is West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s mission?
WHCHC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit housing development corporation founded in 1986. It provides apartments for low-income people in West Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. WHCHC partners with city government, funders, social service providers, community residents, architects, contractors and property managers to build and manage projects.
Project residents include people with disabilities, seniors, people with HIV/AIDS, transition age youth and formerly homeless individuals. Because many residents are elderly and/or disabled, they need a variety of social services to continue living independently. WHCHC offers service-enriched environments which are essential for residents with special needs. Resident Services staff and the Enhanced Management Program combine standard property management practices with referrals to community agencies, crisis intervention, and community-building activities. The goal of the program is to protect residents’ tenancies and provide the best quality of life possible.
2. Why did West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation decide to join the Home For Good movement?
WHCHC partners with the City of West Hollywood and the County of Los Angeles to provide housing for recipients of Shelter Plus vouchers and services. As WHCHC develops additional housing it will target units to individuals and households which are either homeless or at risk for homelessness. WHCHC is committed to working with its service and government partners to reduce and ultimately end homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles County!
3. Why is it important for the City of West Hollywood to opt-in to the 2013 Homeless Count?
WHCHC has participated in the last three Homeless Counts in West Hollywood. The information resulting from the count and the interviews is invaluable in targeting housing development, housing operations, and resident services programs. In 2013 all staff will again be participating by volunteering to count homeless people in census tracts within West Hollywood. WHCHC needs to know where its residents are coming from in order to serve them effectively and the count gives an opportunity to truly understand from a street level, what these people are facing night after night and what they need to change their situations.
4. What 3 words best describe West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation?
“Building with care.”
Watch “Changing Lives” a video featuring various clients housed by WHCHC.
For more information on WHCHC visit www.WHCHC.org
1. When was AIDS Project Los Angeles established and why?
In October 1982, the fears about Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease (GRID) were so rampant, the four founders of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) decided to set up a hotline to answer questions about the disease. The hotline was housed in a small closet in a community center, where volunteers answered a single telephone and shared what little information was available about GRID, one of the early names for AIDS.
Realizing that funds were needed to educate the community and prevent the spread of the disease, the founders held a benefit that raised more than $7,000, which became the seed money for a new organization.
Recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay disease, the founders named the organization AIDS Project Los Angeles.
2. What are some of the needs of AIDS Project Los Angeles’ clients and how does the organization meet these needs?
APLA’s bilingual programs and services enhance both the health and the quality of life of our clients. With nine out of ten clients living on less than $20,000 a year, many depend on these programs for survival. In 2011, APLA’s Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries distributed more than 150,000 bags of free groceries and personal hygiene products to clients living with HIV/AIDS.
People living with HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to dangerous oral infections, so APLA Dental Services offers a full range of dental care in two state-of-the-art clinics and through a mobile dental van that provides care throughout underserved regions of LA County.
APLA also assists people living with AIDS find and maintain safe, stable, affordable and permanent housing through Housing Case Management and the Housing Information Services Clearinghouse (HISC). The Housing Case Management Program addresses the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS who face homelessness, the threat of homelessness, poorly coordinated care for their disease and/or related conditions. Services include formulating housing plans, assisting clients in applying for housing assistance and moving into housing, educating clients about tenant rights and responsibilities, and acting as an ongoing liaison between clients, property owners and case managers.
In addition, APLA offers counseling services, treatment education, and more to help clients remain as healthy and productive as possible.
3. AIDS Project Los Angeles is known for its special events, what are some upcoming ways that people can get involved to support your work?
The biggest event that benefits APLA is AIDS Walk Los Angeles, which will be taking place on Sunday, October 14, 2012. AIDS Walk Los Angeles is a great way to get the whole family involved in doing something to support APLA and the 11,000 clients it serves
There are a number of ways to give in addition to special events. We encourage supporters to volunteer their time at one of our food pantries, become a member of our Leadership Circle, or make a tax-deductible, monthly donation to support APLA’s direct care and prevention services.
4. If your organization had a mascot, what animal would it be and why?
If APLA had a mascot, it would be a turtle. Turtles represent longevity, resilience, and perseverance, which are all defining characteristics of the organization. We have been around for nearly 30 years, we have grown and evolved in response to changes in the epidemic, and we’ll continue to fight until the epidemic is over!
For more information about AIDS Project Los Angeles visit www.apla.org
Beverly Hills resident shows off his new home!
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.
Two successful ALA home sharers!
1. What services does Affordable Living For the Aging provide for seniors?
Affordable Living for the Aging’s mission is to provide vulnerable seniors with affordable housing and supportive services. We help stabilize seniors who did not expect to fend for themselves later in life. With our support, aging Angelenos access resources that benefit them emotionally, physically and socially. We connect them to their peers and to other service providers. Some get medical attention, and others finally have a place to recover from an illness or chronic condition. Our team believes that all people have an absolute right to age with dignity and respect. Everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, should live their later years feeling loved and cared for. Over the past three and half decades we have met with more than 30,000 seniors who needed someone to help them find a safe, decent place to call home. But the demand for our services is growing.
2. What are some of the unique challenges that homeless seniors face?
America is aging at a very rapid rate. Seventy-two million “Baby “Boomers,” born between 1946 and 1964, are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. An estimated one-third of them are struggling with where to live on fixed incomes like social security. Contemplate the magnitude of the issue —- twenty-four million Boomers, living on $750 a month, for the next two to three decades.
The Baby Boom demographic, coupled with increases in average life span compel us to create housing options that are adaptive to an older, less affluent society.
Lamentably, the millennial recession, large public budget deficits and hostility to public domestic spending have dramatically reduced resources for affordable housing. Despite this challenge, at ALA we believe that shared housing has the potential to meet the demand for increased affordable housing without reliance on public capital funding.
Shared housing consists of two or more people sharing a home. This could be a homeowner renting a vacant bedroom, or two or more people renting bedrooms in a group setting.
3. What are the benefits of cooperative living?
The economics of shared housing are attractive as an increasing percentage of seniors are balancing mortgages and high rental costs with other living expenses. Shared housing can provide a source of income and access to non-medical support for those who have ‘extra house’ to share but are otherwise constrained by limited resources. And researchers at UCLA have confirmed that shared living enhances mental and physical health and improves longevity.
4. If in 5 years your organization was featured in the LA Times, what would the headline read?
Our headline would read, “Affordable Living for the Aging’s Shared Housing Program Helps Seniors Gain Security, Companionship and Support.”
Over the next decade ALA will serve as a catalyst and leader in promoting shared housing as a viable model for supporting vulnerable seniors and individuals with special needs. With the help of a national network of shared housing organizations and the inclusion of other community-based partners, private care professionals, city planners, leaders and funders, ALA will proliferate shared housing as a mainstream resource.
For more information about Affordable Living for the Aging visit www.alaseniorliving.org
St. Andrews was renovated by Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and now provides 16 homes for formerly homeless households living with disabilities.
1. What is Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s mission?
Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, a community-based non-profit corporation, preserves and expands the supply of affordable housing for lower income households, in Hollywood and nearby underserved communities of Los Angeles. Through its housing development, economic development and neighborhood improvement initiatives, HCHC improves the quality of life for lower income households and fosters social advancement; respecting and preserving the history, culture and architecture of the communities we serve.
2. When did Hollywood Community Housing Corporation decide to move into the Permanent Supportive Housing field?
We have been providing Permanent Supportive Housing for 16 years now. Our St. Andrews Bungalow Court, completed in 1996, is a historic renovation of a rare Hollywood bungalow courtyard that was slated for demolition. Since its completion, St. Andrews has provided 16 homes for formerly homeless households living with disabilities. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has received numerous historic preservation awards and was featured as the location in the 2007 film, Alvin & the Chipmunks. Since St. Andrews opened, HCHC has developed a total of 168 units of housing for Special Needs households, with 112 of these units serving formerly homeless households. In addition, we have another 550 units serving low and very-low income households.
3. Does Hollywood Community Housing Corporation have any plans to expand its number of Permanent Supportive Housing units?
HCHC is developing two buildings that will provide an additional 68 units of Permanent Supportive Housing. These are both being created with Step Up On Second, which will provide services at the buildings. In addition, HCHC is in negotiation with another nonprofit organization for the purchase of a historic building to be converted to Permanent Supportive Housing.
4. If a movie was made about Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s work, what would the title be and why?
Breaking Ground, the Story of HCHC. The year is 1990. The Nelson Dunning House, a registered historic site, has degenerated to a rat-infested eyesore, unfit for habitation. Two years later, restored to its former glory, the Dunning House and its adjacent apartments raise property values throughout the neighborhood and become homes to 26 very low income households. The action builds as 21 additional buildings over the next 22 years gather awards for design, construction and affordable housing delivery while providing safe, attractive homes to over 1,600 adults and children. HCHC becomes the first affordable housing developer in Los Angeles to partner with a for-profit corporation to develop a mixed-use building containing a “big box” tenant. Meanwhile, HCHC develops a ground-breaking Supportive Service program that quickly attains the highest success rate among grantees of the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACLA) for housing stability among special needs clientele in permanent housing, leading HACLA to identify our supportive service match procedure as “stellar,” and to recommend HCHC as a model for developing a standardized procedure. HCHC moves ahead in its innovative approach to sustainability and program challenges, creating income-generating projects and developing partnerships that expand services for residents.
For more information about Hollywood Community Housing Corporation visit www.hollywoodhousing.org
What is The Catalyst Foundation’s mission?
The mission of The Catalyst Foundation is to create a healing society. Under this umbrella, we are dedicated to decreasing the impact of childhood abuse and trauma on society and the world through direct service, public education, advocacy, policy reform, and empowerment of directly affected and disenfranchised groups. In our local community, the Antelope Valley, we improve the health and well-being of low-income and homeless persons through trauma-informed outreach, supportive social services, and innovative prevention and health education programs.
What are some of the challenges to addressing homelessness in the Antelope Valley?
In the Antelope Valley, a unique atmosphere of stigma and discrimination against homeless people affects the local health care and social service environment. Such individuals avoid seeking health care and other services and try to be “invisible” because they fear that seeking services will bring them to the attention of local authorities. Local policies aggressively target homeless people for arrest for minor law violations such as loitering. Myths, stereotypes and fears about homeless people are prevalent in the region. Some local leaders and even some service providers believe that homeless people come to the Antelope Valley from other regions to use services and resources that should be dedicated to the needs of hard-working local residents. This myth defies logic (lack of services and extreme desert weather conditions are unlikely to attract homeless people) and surveys that show that most homeless persons lived in the region before becoming homeless. Nonetheless, a fearful mindset compounded by economic hard times makes some local leaders and residents hostile toward their homeless neighbors. The City of Lancaster is taking political steps to reduce the number of residents receiving Section 8 housing assistance and the amounts of Section 8 subsidies. According to the Antelope Valley Press, the city’s popular mayor has advocated providing homeless people with “bus tickets out of town” and recently said of ex-offenders, “We don’t want to rehabilitate them. We want them crushed and out of here.”
What are some of the unique opportunities to addressing homelessness in the Antelope Valley?
The Catalyst Foundation’s unique trauma-informed system of care addresses the root causes of homelessness in the Antelope Valley, especially childhood abuse and trauma issues which are pervasive among our participants. Numerous studies on the childhood experiences of homeless individuals clearly indicate the majority of homeless people have been subjected to serious trauma. In particular, the groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a fifteen-year collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente (www.acestudy.org) illustrates the profound effect of childhood trauma on adult health and social functioning decades later. Contrary to popular belief, many people do not simply “get over” such things, even though they may fervently wish to do so. Childhood abuse and trauma, the horrors of war, the aftereffects of violent crimes, and similar issues may leave a devastating lifelong legacy, deeply affecting a person’s sense of self, feelings of safety and control, and ability to self-regulate intense emotions and to maintain close relationships. It can be seen that such long-lasting problems can greatly interfere with functioning in adulthood, ultimately leading to inability to maintain employment, housing, and relationships with others, ending in life on the streets. Catalyst’s trained staff screen all participants for childhood abuse and other life traumas, and connects them with programs and activities the help begin the process of healing these early wounds, which we believe will ultimately translate into stable, secure housing and a peaceful and productive life.
If the Catalyst Foundation decided to form a musical group, what kind of music would it play and why?
We would play music that is too new and different to be widely accepted by mainstream audiences. It would be similar to the music of Linkin Park, unabashedly representing the truth, humanity, and anguish of childhood abuse and trauma and its impact on individuals, society, and the world.
For more information about the Catalyst Foundation visit www.catalystfdn.org
The Giving Keys is an organization that works to end homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles, one person at a time. It all started with a couple holding a sign that said “Ugly, Hungry & Broke.” Founder Caitlin Crosby was walking along Hollywood Boulevard after a screening of Invisible Children when she came upon Cera and Rob, a homeless couple that would become her business partners in founding The Giving Keys. Caitlin began paying Cera and Rob to engrave keys with words of empowerment such as “LOVE,” “STRENGTH,” “HOPE,” “BELIEVE,” etc. to be put on necklaces. Once a key is purchased, it must eventually be given away to a person who you believe needs the message. As the employees of The Giving Keys pound each empowering word into each key, they are working to transition out of homelessness and into better lives. Two years later, Cera is working at the zoo, while Rob is attending community college. Caitlin Crosby believes that continuously pounding away at a meaningful word really allows the person to embrace the message that the word brings. Engraving “STRENGTH” into a key, for instance, reminds the person to be strong through this transition. Engraving “BELIEVE” into a key reminds the person to continue to believe in the process, that working to better themselves will pay off. The key is then passed from person to person, allowing an unlimited amount of people to feel the message. And it all starts with the homeless. This interconnectedness lets us know that we are not alone, and when the key is passed along, you are encouraged to go back to thegivingkeys.com to share your story and inspire others. All of the proceeds from The Giving Keys go to the homeless working to engrave the keys, and the organization hopes to set up an organization in the future that incorporates all of the tools the homeless need to transition, including drug rehabilitation, job counseling, and skills training.
For more information about the Giving Keys please visit www.thegivingkeys.com