As representatives of two community based organizations in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, we believe it is time to take action to end homelessness for our most vulnerable and chronically homeless neighbors. Perfect timing! There is a national initiative with the same goal being pursued by over 100 communities across the Country. As part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, we are mobilizing the Watts community to take part in this initiative and will be organizing a Registry Week October 9th – 14th.  More on that in a minute…

We are also partnering with the Housing Authority of the City ofLos Angeles and Community Solutions to help get answers to some really challenging community development questions. We will need these answers as we pursue creating a healthier and economically strong community – one that does not include our neighbors sleeping on our streets and alleys.  Additionally, HACLA wants to know why there is a growing number of homeless individuals sleeping on the grounds of four of our public housing developments – Jordan Downs, Imperial Courts, Gonzaque, and Nickerson Gardens.

Back to Watts Registry Week…in our efforts to better understand homelessness in Watts and in these public housing developments, more than 50 volunteers will be walking the streets on the early mornings of October 10th, 11th and 12th, to survey the health, housing, and service needs of our homeless.  We also want to try to get a sense of “why” we are seeing an increase in homelessness at the public housing sites.  At the end of the week, we will have a “registry” of all our homeless neighbors and a way to track who is oldest, youngest, a veteran, most medically fragile, who has been homeless the longest, etc.

But, that’s just the start to a larger and more important collaborative community project. The bigger picture is that we are going to work together, as a community of service providers, housing development organizations, healthcare practitioners, and other community and civic leaders, to HOUSE the most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals.   Data collected at the national level maintains that permanent housing along with supportive services, is the only way that we will end homelessness in Los Angeles County and Watts.  It won’t happen over night, but it will happen if we better organize ourselves and target our precious (and scarce) housing and service resources for our sickest and most vulnerable homeless neighbors.

Interested in working with us on this project? Check out 100K Homes Watts on Facebook or sign up as a Registry Week volunteer here.

Dana Knoll works with Watts Healthcare Corporation and Vickie Donaldson is part of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee


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