Ways to Get Involved in Addressing Homelessness
January 19, 2021 1:35 PM
by Tati Simonian
Above photo: A Homelessness Multi-Disciplinary Team at Work During COVID-19
This is the time of year when the community would normally be preparing for the annual Homeless Count. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to gather, finding alternative means to continue to address homelessness is top of mind. The City's three Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT's) are continuing to provide street-based treatment, connections to housing, and basic needs like food and hygiene supplies to our unhoused neighbors. These teams are made up of experts like behavioral health clinicians, case managers, substance use disorder counselors, medical professionals, and peers with lived experience. Additionally, the City’s Preserving Our Diversity program continues to enroll eligible seniors in rent control units to provide cash-based assistance to meet a minimum after-rent income to prevent vulnerable seniors from becoming homeless.
However, as an individual, it can be difficult to see how one action can change such a complex issue as homelessness. But each act, collectively, can have a big impact. Here is a roundup to inspire ways to get involved and stay tuned for an update to City Council on homelessness in the coming months.
Be An Advocate
Affordable housing is a key component to addressing homelessness. Follow along with the Housing Element project, which is the City’s strategic plan for providing new housing opportunities while preserving housing for existing residents. It is updated every eight years to align with State law and is currently being developed for Santa Monica for the 2021 – 2029 cycle.
Share information about housing programs with friends, and neighbors who may be eligible. The waitlists for both the Below Market Housing program and the Housing Choice Voucher program are open. Also, the POD program which provides cash-based assistance to seniors who live in Santa Monica’s rent-controlled units is still accepting applications.
Property owners who are interested in housing low-income families, take a look at the Project-Based Voucher program, which attaches a rental subsidy to a vacant home, or a home occupied by an existing qualified family.
Concerned residents can make a request at la-hop.org to alert a county outreach team about an unhoused neighbor. Note that outreach workers often need to make multiple visits and the process can take some time to get someone housed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way volunteer efforts can safely occur. Explore volunteer opportunities at local agencies that are addressing homelessness and providing supportive services like Venice Family Clinic, Salvation Army, and CLARE/Matrix.
Please take precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Making a donation, no matter the size is a safe and impactful option to address homelessness.
Explore and donate to local agencies and nonprofits working in housing, community health, supportive services, and more to help address homelessness in our area.
Learn About The Issue
Homelessness is complex and involves many factors. While the Stay at Home Order in place, explore online videos, articles, or sign up to receive updates about homelessness. You may find an aspect of the issue you are passionate about and decide to get further involved when it is safer to do so:
The City of Santa Monica DEEPeR strategy provides a set of tools that empower community members to have safer, more effective interactions with people experiencing homelessness. Explore the DEEPeR series of videos including ones geared towards landlords and business owners.
Los Angeles County released a second annual report on mortality among people experiencing homelessness in LA County, with drug-related deaths being the leading cause. Public Health is taking immediate steps to minimize drug-related mortality. Read more about the issue.
Whether you choose to advocate, volunteer, donate, or commit to learning more, homelessness is a regional issue that cannot rely on one entity to tackle alone. It is an issue that has room for everyone to join in and help.