Seated on the couch in his apartment, Derrick is surrounded by memories. Pictures of family, his treasured collection of books and a pile of stuffed animals, each named for a friend who he has loved and lost. Everything has a meaning, a purpose. “The first day I got here, I was so happy,” he says. “I just had one sheet and one blanket, but I knew how I wanted my place to be.”
Three years ago, Derrick was living on the streets, struggling with mental illness and unable to work. Today, in his apartment at the PATH Villas at Del Rey, he is home. Operated by PATH Ventures, the complex provides long-term affordable housing coupled with on-site services such as employment assistance, physical and mental health care and case management. This approach, called permanent supportive housing, is proven to be effective and can cut government costs associated with chronic homelessness by up to 75 percent.
Tonight, nearly 60,000 men, women and children in Los Angeles County will go to sleep homeless. Over the course of a year, more than 150,000 experience homelessness, enough to fill the Rose Bowl, the Staples Center, the Forum and the Hollywood Bowl. This year, the California Community Foundation helped generate $1.2 billion in bond funds and more than $350 million in annual spending on effective programs aimed at ending the homelessness crisis in L.A.
In partnership with local funders, nonprofits, businesses and the City and County of Los Angeles, we helped propose and pass two ballot measures, L.A. City Proposition HHH and L.A. County Measure H, focused on lifting our neighbors out of homelessness and ensuring others never fall into it in the first place.
The breadth and commitment of this cross-sector partnership are at the core of the measures’ success.
“It was inspiring,” said Tommy Newman, director of public affairs at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and special consultant to the H/HHH campaigns. “Government, business and labor, philanthropy, homeless service providers, neighborhood councils and developers all saw this as a priority.”
Each member of the coalition brought their own skills, resources and networks to the campaign. Thousands of volunteers knocked on doors, attended community meetings and raised awareness. The campaign sent out 100,000 hand-written postcards to voters across Los Angeles.
The response was incredible. People in every part of Los Angeles felt a personal connection to this crisis. They understood that everyone benefits when homeless Angelenos get the shelter and services they need to thrive. As a result, both measures passed with overwhelming majorities.
“We’re fortunate that Angelenos have been so passionate and generous in responding to the crisis,” said Miguel Santana, who served as city administrative officer for the City of Los Angeles during the campaigns. “It’s really now on us to make sure it actually happens.”
While success at the ballot box is a tremendous step forward, it is just the beginning. Affordable housing developers still face a complex permitting process and major financial hurdles.
In response, CCF launched the Home L.A. Loan Fund, an innovative charitable investment option for donors that provides guaranteed seed-capital loans to organizations building permanent supportive housing. Through the loans, recipients can speed up production and maximize the number of units built. At the conclusion of each loan’s term, 100 percent of the initial investment is returned to the donor’s fund.
Most importantly, every home built transforms someone’s future, helping them to rise above their struggles and take control of their own life.
Looking out from his balcony over the rooftops of the Westside, Derrick marvels at how much things have changed in just three short years. “I’m living my dreams now. I’ve even got a job interview tomorrow,” he says with a smile. “Wish me luck.”
To learn more about CCF’s work to combat homelessness, visit calfund.org/homeLA.