Coalition building is helping Bellflower do more with less

Coalition building is helping Bellflower do more with less

A group of stakeholders involved in Bellflower Counts, a local initiative to house Bellflower's most vulnerable, meet to discuss progress.

Our Place Housing Solutions (OPHS) recognizes that homelessness is a regional problem with localized symptoms. While nearly all of LA County suffers from some form of homelessness, the problem manifests itself differently from city to city, even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

OPHS promotes an asset-based approach to addressing homelessness.

In Bellflower, local residents and community leaders gathered and asked the question, “How can we mobilize the local human and material resources we have already to love our homeless neighbors together?” This group designed a variety of efforts that have resulted in strong relationships between local volunteers and homeless neighbors.

The group soon recognized that as a community, our indigenous resources could only go so far.  If we were to actually end homelessness for our neighbors we would need some help from others in our region.  Since 2010, we’ve been collaborating with other service providers in our region and it’s helped us to do even more good with less.

Partnerships have enabled us to accomplish more good for our homeless neighbors. Successful partnerships and the firm belief in collaboration have led us to build a SPA 7 Homeless Coalition. A relatively resource poor region, SPA 7 has one shelter, few permanent supportive housing units, and limited homeless resources in general. This deficit represents an inconvenience to us as service providers, however for our neighbors in need, it can be devastating. It is for this reason that we are working to grow our regional network, knowledge, and resources. The more we increase our knowledge, and the better we understand what resources are available, the more equipped we will be to respond to our neighbors in need. The more united we are in our voice and our efforts to increase resources to this region, the more success we are likely to have.

While coalition building is a slow process, and it can feel like an “extra” to our workloads, we recognize that the success of our community cannot be disconnected from the success of our region. It can be difficult to step away from the day to day to build partnerships, but we all stand to benefit from strengthening collaboration throughout the SPA as a whole. We are continually seeking service providers, faith communities, or individuals who have expertise in homelessness, or just a desire to end it. We meet on a monthly basis to share resources, cross train, and stay abreast on upcoming opportunities. Our hope is that the more we work together, the better we can address homelessness in our communities.

Marina N. Flores is the Director of Programs at Our Place Housing Solutions.

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