STAT News: The job sounds impossible: solve the health care crisis in the massive and desperately sick homeless population of Skid Row, which sprawls across dozens of blocks just south of downtown.
ArchPaper: A recent count by Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) put the growing visibility and proliferation of homelessness in L.A. County into stark terms. Reporting a 5.7 percent increase in overall homelessness, the report counted 46,874 homeless individuals this year compared with the 44,359 counted in 2015. Within that statistic, LAHSA detailed 34,527 people living on the streets full-time, up from 31,025 doing so one year prior.
The proposal also calls upon the City of Los Angeles to create new, local revenue streams to fund the increased production of permanent supportive housing, and to build upon Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Directive 13 to dramatically reduce development timelines for permanent supportive housing.
“We know that permanent supportive housing has a proven track record of helping those most in need, while saving government and tax-payer money,” said California Community Foundation President & CEO Antonia Hernández. “By moving frequent users of services like emergency rooms and shelters into apartments that provide much-needed social services, we’re helping our homeless neighbors stabilize and eventually become self-sufficient.”
Mayor Garcetti, Councilmember Gill Cedillo, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson also spoke in support of the initiative. The foundations’ support will leverage Mayor Garcetti’s commitment of $138 million to combat homelessness over the next year. The coalition aims to build on this momentum and encourage the City to develop long-term solutions to homelessness.
“Homelessness touches every corner of our City, impacting all of us,” said Mayor Garcetti. “To combat the crisis, my 2016 budget will include a historic $138 million investment to drive forward our homelessness strategies, but as we bring record levels of City investments to the table, we also need all hands on deck. These foundations are leading the private sector by partnering with us to do more for those who need our help the most. I applaud their work.”
In addition to remarks from CEO Mike Alvidrez, New Genesis resident, Joe Sims spoke about the impact that permanent supportive housing has had on his health and wellbeing.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Gil Cedillo, State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin De Leon, and US Congressman Xavier Becerra helped the Trust officially unveil The Six, welcoming new residents home. With 52 apartments and studios for formerly homeless individuals, it is the Trust’s first development with permanent supportive housing specifically for veterans. In the military, “got your six” means “I’ve got your back.” The Six has space for onsite supportive programs to help residents achieve health and wellness, and its courtyards and common areas are peaceful sanctuaries that connect with the surrounding community. Designed by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, The Six is expected to receive LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Located in MacArthur Park, The Six is the Trust’s first building completed outside of Downtown Los Angeles, showing that our successful model, based on Housing First, Harm Reduction, and Design Equity, can be applied to neighborhoods across the region. We are expanding our work to create more supportive and affordable housing options for the 44,000 people who are homeless throughout Los Angeles County.
Last week, Skid Row Housing Trust participated in the Housing First Partners Conference in Downtown Los Angeles, which is the largest conference of its kind. Focused on bringing Housing First programs to scale to end chronic homelessness nationwide, over 800 attendees shared strategies and experiences from their communities. As a sponsor, the Trust helped kick-off the conference on Tuesday, March 22nd by leading tours of the Skid Row neighborhood and Trust buildings. Trust staff also presented on lessons learned from renovating and updating older buildings in our portfolio. On the conference’s last day, CEO Mike Alvidrez helped introduce Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who spoke about her $13 billion budget proposal to address homelessness. “We know how to solve homelessness, and our strategies are backed by evidence. For instance, Housing First has been adopted by the VA as the model for ending veteran homelessness,” said Trust CEO Mike Alvidrez. “The challenge now is to expand our programs so that everyone in need can access housing.”
Los Angeles County Newsroom visited the Star Apartments to talk with residents and staff to learn more about the innovative complex. Named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2015, the Star Apartments is a product of Skid Row Housing Trust’s pioneering partnership with Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which identifies and refers individuals to the Star who were homeless and frequent utilizers of its emergency health services. Watch to find out why the Star is a nationally recognized model studied by organizations and local governments seeking to address the root causes of homelessness in their communities.
On February 24th, nonprofit leaders from around the country visited the Star Apartments as part of the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders program. They met with Trust staff and partners to learn about the innovative design and cross-sector partnerships that make permanent supportive housing projects like the Star Apartments possible. Attendees toured resident units, common areas, and wellness facilities, and visited the Los Angeles County Department of Health Service‘s ground floor offices and medical clinic. There attendees met with Marc Trotz, Director of Housing for Health, who explained how the Department of Health Services is working with Skid Row Housing Trust to link homeless patients to housing.
Following the tour, Bank of America hosted a panel in the Star’s garden to explore how partnerships between public institutions and private nonprofits can better address homelessness. Panelists Elise Buik, United Way President and CEO, Mark Loranger, Chrysalis President and CEO, Jan Perry, Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development General Manager, and Mike Alvidrez, Skid Row Housing Trust CEO, discussed how leaders throughout the community can collaborate to develop effective solutions to the most pressing issues.
Bank of America Neighborhood Builders program strengthens nonprofit leaders and supports nonprofit organizations through grants and leadership development, creating a national network of peers focused on permanently addressing social issues. It is the nation’s largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles City Council and the County Board of Supervisors coordinated efforts to pass comprehensive plans to prevent and end homelessness. I am glad lawmakers approved strategies that were created through an extensive stakeholder engagement process, including plans to develop more permanent supportive housing to serve the chronically homeless. Their plans embrace evidence-based approaches to homelessness – including Permanent Supportive Housing and Housing First – that Skid Row Housing Trust implemented over a decade ago when they were still considered controversial. Both strategies have now become standard practice for combatting chronic and veteran’s homelessness.
While the funding for most of the proposed housing and services have not yet been identified, I view these detailed blueprints as a good first step in a long-term commitment by our city and county leaders to remedy an affordable housing crisis that has plagued the Los Angeles economy for far too long. It will require continued coordination to house the 44,000 people currently homeless in our county, and funding to create the housing and services required to prevent homelessness in the first place. Your support and advocacy will help ensure that combatting homelessness continues to be prioritized by local leaders in the coming years.
Mike Alvidrez, CEO
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented a commendation to Skid Row Housing Trust to celebrate our innovative Star Apartments. The building was recently named one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2015 by TIME Magazine for launching permanent supportive housing into a new era of design for health, wellness and community revitalization. The Star is a nationally recognized model studied by organizations and local governments seeking to address the root causes of homelessness in their respective communities. “Enhancing the pipeline of quality affordable housing for all residents, especially our most vulnerable, has become one of the most pressing issues of our time,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The homeless crisis that exists in Los Angeles County requires a bold new vision and Star Apartments is a defining example of what can and must be done.”
Star Apartments is the product of Skid Row Housing Trust’s pioneering partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). DHS funds case management and supportive services at Star Apartments, and in exchange it identifies and refers individuals to the Star who are homeless and frequent utilizers of its emergency healthcare services. This partnership not only saves lives, but also saves the public millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on inpatient and emergency care.
Designed by the world-renowned and award-winning Michael Maltzan Architecture, Star Apartments is an iconic building that aims to inspire residents and the surrounding community. A LEED for Homes Platinum development, the Star features 102 units of permanent supportive housing terraced above a Health & Wellness Center, which includes a community kitchen, art room, running/walking track, and exercise space. Residents can also enjoy a raised community garden, and multiple outdoor patio spaces for group activities. On the ground floor, the Star houses a clinic operated by DHS, which serves both Star residents and the surrounding community. It is also headquarters for DHS’ Housing for Health Division, a ground-breaking team that is committed to funneling resources towards the most critical determinant of health: housing.
Construction has begun on Skid Row Southeast 1, a project to renovate Las Americas Hotel Apartments and Olympia Hotel Apartments, two of our buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. Renovations at both buildings will focus on improving energy efficiency, reducing water usage, and extending each building’s life. The project will also focus on updating housing amenities and enhancing common areas for current and future residents. Major improvements include installing an elevator at Las Americas, reconfiguring the courtyard and kitchen at Olympia, and creating new spaces for supportive services in both buildings. Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of 2016.