Los Angeles is the first city in the nation to declare a public emergency on homelessness, according to a recent article in the New York Times. The article reports the city will put $100 million into helping the estimated 44,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, more than half of whom live in the city limits.
While funding is indeed needed to address the homeless population, it must also provide for housing, help, and moreover hope. The following are trends I’ve witnessed in my work at the Los Angeles Mission.
Housing. Many of the students in the Work Start Program facilitated by the Career Services Department are looking for jobs to increase their incomes. Yet housing options often are not affordable unless students can make enough money at the jobs they attain through the Mission, or they can qualify for government-subsidized programs.
As the article states, “Rents have soared all over the city and housing vouchers usually cover only a fraction of the rent for a home near public transportation. Efforts to build new housing units have floundered, and the city’s spending on affordable housing has plummeted to $26 million, roughly a quarter of what it was a decade ago.”
This underscores a key component of addressing the homeless. Housing must go beyond emergency food and shelter, and focus on affordable long-term living solutions where people can be safe, make good choices, and achieve healthy lifestyles.
Help. The article quotes Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, saying, “A lot of places don’t have a real grip of what the homeless population is in real time, and respond only crisis to crisis.”
This is experienced daily at the Los Angeles Mission. Many students I work with have issues beyond just needing a roof over their heads. Some struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, or have a criminal history, and need assistance in skills training, legal representation, financial planning, job placement, or re-entering society. These are the root causes of homelessness, and immediate support is often needed in many of these areas for people to put systems in place to access and sustain housing solutions.
Hope. The article states that nearly 13,000 people in Los Angeles County become homeless each month, indicating that people who thought of themselves as homeowners just 10 to 15 years ago are now renting. In addition, the number of people not in shelters, but living in “tents, cars, and makeshift encampments,” grew to 9,535, nearly doubling in the last two years.
This illustrates the notion that many people are just a few paychecks away from being homeless themselves. After obtaining initial shelter and food to get off the streets, people who have gone through the trauma of losing their homes need support systems of people who care about them. They need to know that it is possible to regain their livelihoods. They need hope that they can have a fresh start.
Immediate and long-term solutions to fight homelessness is the commitment of Big Change Advisors. As a leading M&A advisory firm in Los Angeles, we dedicate a portion of fees paid to Big Change to help alleviate homelessness in L.A. through the Los Angeles Mission. By working with Big Change Advisors, businesses can help get people off the streets, and on their way to finding housing, help, and hope.
Steve Pomeroy is the founder of Big Change Advisors, a unique M&A consulting firm in Los Angeles that helps businesses achieve big goals while making a big impact on society. To request a free consultation, contact us.