This week the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released its 2017 Homeless Count results. The numbers are heartbreaking: an estimated 58,000 people are now homeless in Los Angeles County, a 23% increase from 2016.
Only hours later we celebrated the grand opening of the Trust’s newest property, Crest Apartments. 64 formerly homeless individuals with high health needs – 23 of whom are military veterans – now call Crest Apartments home. The Crest residents are among 14,000 homeless individuals housed throughout Los Angeles County last year.
Rising housing costs and stagnant wages across the County mean that many of our friends, family members, and neighbors are one crisis away from living on the street. We will not end homelessness until this economic crisis is addressed.
And yet I have hope for Los Angeles. Alongside our partners, Skid Row Housing Trust is ready to fight this extraordinary crisis. We have a pipeline of over 500 permanent supportive housing units in predevelopment – many of which are funded through the first round of Prop HHH bond measure funding made available by the City of Los Angeles. We are ensuring that our residents have access to the care and support they need to remain stably housed, and expect to take full advantage of more robust supportive programs that will be supported by Measure H and Whole Person Care in the years to come.
What can you do? Be an advocate for affordable housing and permanent supportive housing in your community. We need to create housing wherever homelessness is happening in Los Angeles – and it is happening everywhere. Elected officials and neighborhood representatives need to hear that you would welcome more housing options in your backyard.
Our work is not possible without your support. Donate now or set up your own fundraising campaign for Skid Row Housing Trust at skidrow.org/we-end-homelessness. Every dollar helps us provide stable homes that are the foundation of a healthy and fulfilling life.
CEO, Skid Row Housing Trust
Curbed LA: Another major new affordable housing development may be on the way to Skid Row, where sleek new projects like Michael Maltzan’s Star Apartments have been rising lately amid the aging single resident occupancy hotels that have served residents for decades.
In partnership with Central City Association (CCA), the Trust hosted a Community Exchange Day on Friday, April 21st at the Star Apartments. CCA members and Trust residents participated in a myriad of activities together, including meditation, gardening, and pickleball. Piece by Piece held mosaic workshops, and L.A. Kitchen‘s culinary job training students made everyone lunch. The day gave CCA members insight into proven strategies that address homelessness, like permanent supportive housing, and demonstrated the array of supportive programs that help residents heal and build a sustainable life.
Addressing homelessness is one of CCA’s top priorities, and the exchange day is part of a larger campaign to connect CCA members to programs that serve the community. “Participating in the CCA event at Star Apartments was an incredible experience. The level of expertise in the individuals leading the workshops and the end game of empowering formerly homeless individuals was inspiring,” commented Sara Soudani of Commonwealth Land Title. “I enjoyed being a part of the Piece by Piece art workshop and appreciated learning that low-income individuals can enroll in classes at no charge and then have their work displayed in art galleries.”
Piece by Piece, a partner of Skid Row Housing Trust, is featured in the Los Angeles Times to demonstrate the impact of funding for the arts. Piece by Piece offers low-income and formerly homeless individuals free mosaic art workshops that develop soft skills, build self-confidence, and create opportunities to earn income.
Held at various Trust buildings throughout the week, Peer 4 Peer is a support group that gives residents space to talk about issues that affect them. The Trust’s Peer Advocates facilitate the groups to create an environment that is open and compassionate. “We make sure the conversation keeps going,” said Peer Advocate Anthony Haynes. “We are not there to do all the talking, but to make sure everyone is respectful and can share their thoughts.”
Trained in psycho-social education techniques, Peer Advocates are current Trust residents that have experienced homelessness and are successfully housed. The Trust launched the Peer Advocate program to offer additional support to new residents during the critical first 90 days of transitioning from homelessness into housing. Having gone through the transition themselves, Peer Advocates offer mentorship and guidance to new residents based on firsthand experience. They help new residents connect to the wider community by inviting them to participate in weekly groups like Peer 4 Peer.
A supportive community is critical for leading healthy and full life, and Peer 4 Peer is a part of creating that support network. “Group members feel more comfortable in a space with peers,” said Stacey Hartnett, the Trust’s Health and Wellness Coordinator. “They can talk openly about struggles with substance use or mental illness, and gain strength from other residents who may have experienced similar challenges.”
Curbed LA: How does a city keep one of its hottest neighborhoods from becoming just another enclave of the superrich?
Yesterday at Skid Row Housing Trust’s Crest Apartments, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Chair Wendy Gruel, and a coalition of business leaders, veterans, and homeless service organizations urged voters to support Measure H on March 7th. Check out the live stream on Facebook! This ballot measure would create funding dedicated to supportive services that are proven to end and prevent homelessness, including outreach, health care, substance abuse recovery, housing support, and job training. While a home is the first step to ending homelessness, supportive services are essential for helping people get off the street and remain stably housed.
The rally was the first public event to take place at the Trust’s new Crest Apartments, which transformed an open lot into 63 homes for veterans and disabled individuals who have experienced homelessness. It is located in the San Fernando Valley, where the number of people experiencing homelessness grew by 35% last year. Measure H will help people across Los Angeles County, including women and children, veterans, and those with mental illness get the support they need and break the cycle of homelessness. It will help house 45,000 families and individuals within five years, and prevent homelessness for 30,000 families and individuals over the same period.
We asked Mayor Garcetti to write some postcards at the rally to help get out the vote. If you are interested in educating the public about Measure H, volunteer to phone bank from home and show your support on social media. Measure H is an important part of a county-wide effort to combat homelessness. It is an opportunity to define the type of community we want to live in and pass on to our children.
CEO, Skid Row Housing Trust
Fast Company Co.Design: Every night, an estimated 50,000 people sleep on the streets of Los Angeles—a figure that’s skyrocketed by 35% in the last year alone. The problem is so bad that the mayor has declared a state of emergency, and in November, L.A. voters approved a $1.2 billion bond to build 10,000 apartment units over the next decade for the chronically homeless. But it takes two to five years to build this kind of permanent housing because of the city’s complex building code and zoning rules—and the city needs a fix right now.