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Q&A With Organizations on the Front Lines of Homelessness
February 19, 2018
by Margaret Willis
The City of Santa Monica invests more than $2.8 million annually in local service providers who address homelessness directly in our community by providing a variety of services for the homeless. Here’s a look at three of them.
St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph Center is a countywide nonprofit serving 7,000 low-income and homeless clients annually. Through the Chronic Homeless Project, the organization provides outreach, placement and housing retention services to highly vulnerable men and women in Santa Monica.
Question: How is your organization working to better save homeless people?
St. Joseph Center: We were among the City of Santa Monica’s earliest partners on the Chronic Homeless Project, and we have evolved the concept of multi-disciplinary teams for the last decade. Many of our street teams now include outreach specialists, mental health professionals and medical practitioners. We also believe deeply in the power of collaboration. We have been eager to serve as the lead agency for this region’s Coordinated Entry System for Individuals since its inception a few years ago, because we know we can always achieve more by working together than by working independently.
Q: Our city has seen an increase in people without homes. How has this issue been changing regionally?
SJC: Homelessness is up across LA County, in virtually every city and community. This is a regional challenge that will require regional solutions. We are encouraged by the passage of Measure H in the County and Measure HHH in the City of LA. As a larger community, we are becoming more concerned about finding real solutions for the most vulnerable among us.
Q: What is your organization's main goal this year?
SJC: Our overarching goal is to make an impact that people can see. When you drive down the streets of your community, does it look different now than it did a year ago? We’re striving to make sure people see and feel that things are getting better.
Q: How can we help?
SJC: Residents can volunteer by holding drives for important items such as hygiene kits for homeless men and women. Please visit stjosephctr.org/how-to-help to learn more.
The People Concern
As one of Los Angeles County’s largest social services agencies, The People Concern provides a fully integrated system of care tailored to the needs of homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence and others who have nowhere else to turn. The People Concern was formed in 2016 by a union of two Los Angeles County-based social service organizations, OPCC and Lamp Community.
Question: How do you work with the City of Santa Monica to assist those in need?
The People Concern: The People Concern has strong ties and partnerships within the community. Our outreach teams partner and connect with the Santa Monica Police Department to bring crucial services to the City’s most vulnerable, meeting individuals where they are. We also have a partnership with Providence Saint John’s Health Center through our hospital in-reach program, the first of its kind in Santa Monica.
Q: Why do you think we've seen an increase in homelessness in the city and across LA County?
TPC: We’ve found the rise in homelessness is due to a combination of factors: rising rents, decreased vacancy rates and stagnant development of affordable housing.
Q: What are some goals for your organization this year?
TPC: Our goals in 2018 are to increase the number of people placed into permanent housing and to increase street outreach efforts. We also plan to expand our partnerships with local hospitals to bring services to the most vulnerable.
Q: Have you seen an increase in utilization of your resources in the last year?
TPC: Yes, we have. We’ve also added additional outreach teams around the city, offering increased multidisciplinary services on the streets to engage those not yet ready to visit our drop-in center.
Q: How can people get involved?
TPC: Volunteer opportunities include meal services, workshops, an arts program and administrative work. As for donations, we accept both in-kind and monetary. For more information, please visit thepeopleconcern.org.
Upward Bound House
The mission of Upward Bound House is to eliminate homelessness among families with children in Los Angeles by providing housing, supportive services and advocacy.
Question: Tell us about the services you provide.
Upward Bound House: We provide services that keep homeless families with children together, while helping them increase their savings, find gainful employment, and address any immediate needs such as food, clothing and shelter. We also make sure children are enrolled in school, and provide one-onone tutoring and other enrichment activities. Our services are available to families for a year after they graduate from our programs. Ninety-five percent of our families remain in their homes more than a year after placement in permanent housing.
Q: What are some of your organization's goals this year?
UBH: We hope to help more homeless families through the expansion of our programs. We want to spread awareness about the issue of family homelessness and the ways in which every community member can be a part of the solution to end this problem. We are also passionately committed to advocating for public policies that protect families that are struggling due to lack of affordable housing, stagnating wages and a myriad of other key social issues.
Q: How have families been utlizing your services?
UBH: With an increasing number of families living in cars, parks and the streets, our organization provides a safe and stable environment for vulnerable families. Families work with our case managers, employment specialists and housing locators, and receive wraparound services from us. We also connect them with resources in their community that can provide additional support. We have helped more than 1,200 families— including 2,200 children—find their own homes.
Q: Where can we find volunteer and donation opportunities?
UBH: Visit our website at upwardboundhouse.org.