Last January, more than 5,500 volunteers spread out across the county as part of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count to tally and survey L.A. residents struggling with homelessness. What they discovered was sobering: from 2013 to 2015, the county’s homeless population jumped more than 12 percent.
The number of homeless men, women and children in Los Angeles is large enough to fill Dodger Stadium. Their stories and backgrounds are as diverse as L.A. itself: former foster youth, senior citizens, veterans and families fleeing domestic violence, just to name a few. This year alone, Los Angeles County will spend $1 billion caring for our homeless neighbors, with more than half of that going to physical and mental healthcare.
The health effects of homelessness are staggering. A lack of insurance often forces the homeless to forego preventive care and delay seeking help. Marc Trotz, director the L.A. County Department of Health Services’ Housing for Health program, says lack of housing can exacerbate even the most easily treatable conditions.
“If you’re homeless and you’ve been discharged from the hospital, you often don’t have anyone to treat your wounds, change the dressings or help you manage with a broken leg,” Trotz told USC’s Intersections blog. “You can’t deal with these conditions properly if you are living on the streets.”
With the City of Los Angeles facing a state of emergency on homelessness, now is the time to act on solutions that work.
The California Community Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all L.A. residents can live in safety and dignity with the services and opportunities they need to thrive. We believe this not only helps individuals and families succeed, but also strengthens our region as a whole. In accordance with our mission to lead positive systemic change in Los Angeles, CCF is focusing attention on increasing the supply of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units.
Data has proven that PSH is the most effective way to end chronic homelessness and we believe it should be how the City of Los Angeles invests to effectively combat this crisis. PSH is a cost-effective measure that combines affordable housing with services that help people facing complex challenges to live with stability, autonomy and dignity.
CCF has joined a coalition of foundations, housing developers and lenders to propose a plan to triple the number of PSH units every year in the City of Los Angeles. The proposal – which will be publicly presented in April – calls upon the City of Los Angeles to adopt policies that would accelerate building and dramatically reduce development timelines. CCF is also pooling resources from other foundations to kick-start this production of more PSH units in Los Angeles.
To support these ongoing efforts at combating the homelessness epidemic in our community, please consider donating to CCF’s Home L.A. Fund at calfund.org/homela.
Pictured above: Skid Row Housing Trust’s Robert Navarro (right), leads a monthly class for residents of the Abbey Apartments on making quick, affordable and nutritious meals, a program funded by CCF.