Homelessness is one of the most complex and vexing challenges in our community, with over 58,000 individuals living on the streets. This crisis touches every neighborhood throughout L.A. County and has come to define so many lives.
Last year, 1.5 million Angelenos voted to pass two historic initiatives aimed to fight homelessness through supportive housing. Proposition HHH and Measure H are slated to generate $5 billion over ten years and those funds will go towards building housing and funding supportive services but will also, for the first time, allow us to focus on homelessness prevention.
The funds generated will allow L.A. County to prioritize building supportive housing, a proven and cost-effective solution. A USC study showed that costs to provide supportive housing for our homeless neighbors are 43% lower than the costs associated with a person living on the streets or in emergency shelters. The study also found that supportive housing is more effective than other solutions because once individuals are housed, access to services— including mental health treatment, medical care, and job training — helped them to stay housed with a 90% retention rate.
The voters have spoken in approving these dollars; but now we need residents to play an active role in supporting solutions in their neighborhoods.
On March 9, 2018, United Way of Greater Los Angeles launched its new movement in the fight to end homelessness. Called Everyone In, the movement is a community engagement initiative powered by a coalition of philanthropic, business, labor, and community organizations, that will allow give Angelenos one place to track and measure progress toward ending homelessness. What’s more, individuals will be able to to learn more about the people who are experiencing homelessness in their community, stay informed on supportive housing, and get opportunities to attend community events and tours, to volunteer, and to take an active role in supporting solutions that work.
In the coming month, United Way is also hosting an immersive community pop-up event series, focused on bringing awareness to the fight against homelessness.
Together, we can move people off the streets and into supportive housing. We can provide the services that will help every day residents find stability and give them a chance to rebuild their lives.
With committed resources and political and community desire, Los Angeles can end the homelessness crisis.
The time to make a difference is now.