Join Us June 6th: 5-6:30pm

Please join Our Community LA™ for an exciting evening of virtual performances at the Inaugural Spring Showcase. Singers, musicians, poets, and speakers will take the virtual stage as we raise awareness and funds for Our Community LA’s WIN What I Need®️ app.

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LA County Loses Bid to Dismiss Homelessness Neglect Lawsuit

MARTIN MACIAS JR The Courthouse News- Read original article here

The organization LA Alliance for Human Rights sued the city and county of Los Angeles in March 2020 seeking local government-provided care for homeless people and swift construction of shelter and housing options for the unhoused. The group says the county fails to fund construction of a sufficient amount of housing for the poor and homeless and does not provide the appropriate level of health care needed for the growing unhoused population.

A month after the suit was filed, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ordered city and county officials to house everyone living in the Skid Row community — a 50-square block, open-air encampment — by October.

The Central District of California judge also ordered county officials to audit funds allocated for fighting homelessness and for the city to place $1 billion in local funds in an impound account.

Attorneys for the county argued Carter’s ruling would unnecessarily push more people into crowded shelters or direct public funds to develop more temporary shelters instead of permanent housing.

The county also argued Skid Row is located in the city and authority to clear sidewalks there lies with city, not county, officials.

In a virtual hearing Monday on the county’s motion, Skip Miller, the county’s outside counsel, told Carter the court is in no position to dictate the county’s spending decisions in the fight against homelessness.

But in an 11-page ruling Tuesday, Carter rejected the county’s arguments and denied the motion to dismiss, writing that the court is well within its power to act if the government fails to address a crisis on the scale of what is present in LA County. Read more

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TIKTOC #WINAPP Competition

Homeless Youth Create Videos for WIN App

OCLA’s social media team (#TeamWIN) kicked off a TikTok social media competition in late July at Safe Place for Youth, (a Venice drop-in center for homeless youth). Participating youth were invited to create a video that shares how the WIN app can #GlowUp the lives of users.  Ten videos were created and submitted by local youth and uploaded onto OCLA’s WINWhatINeed TikToc page. Youth and WIN supporters were encouraged to solicit their social networks to watch and vote for the video they liked best. The 3 videos with the most LIKES by August 20th will be awarded prizes.

Simple steps to watch and vote for the video you like best:

  1. Download the free TikToc app here:
  2. Open the “WINWhatINeed “OCLA page
  3. watch videos
  4. open a free TikTok account
  5. “Like” your favorite videos!

Please support the youth video-makers by watching the videos and voting for your favorites today!


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How to make shelter safe for transgender individuals

by Anna Blasco      March 22, 2016

Access to emergency shelter can save lives by giving people with nowhere else to go a safe place to sleep. But for some, shelters have not been safe, welcoming environments. The shelter system as a whole is “utterly failing to provide safety or relief for transgender and gender non-conforming people facing a housing crisis,” according to a 2011 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

They found that for those transgender individuals who had attempted to access homeless shelters:

29 percent were turned away

42 percent were forced to stay in facilities designated for the wrong gender

55 percent were harassed

25 percent were physically assaulted

22 percent were sexually assaulted

Tools for review and improvement: An examination of our shelter system’s policies is clearly long overdue. Thankfully, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recognized this need and has recently released further guidance and tools that can help:

One that is particularly helpful is a self-assessment tool that shelters and programs can use to generate an action plan

This guide provides sample policies and procedures that shelters and other programs can adopt, like an anti-discrimination policy for clients

At your next staff meeting, use these training scenarios to spark discussions about client and staff interactions and how to respond in a transgender-inclusive way.

Even if your program already has reviewed your policies and procedures, I urge you to look again. Staff turnover in shelters can be very high, so it is critical that staff training is ongoing. We will never truly be done freeing our agencies and programs of discriminatory policies. Original article published here.

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Are You an Adult (18 or older)  in Need of Shelter?  From December 1-March 1st, LA County is offering evening Winter Shelter for Single Individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. You can get free transportation to and from the shelters – just go to any of the free pick up locations or call the Shelter Hotline for a list of free pickup addresses.

Shelter Hotline: 1(800) 548-6047

TDD: 1(800) 660-4026

Hours of Operation: Daily after 5:00 PM

 Pick up Locations –  Click Here for WSP locations

Winter Shelter sites are not able to serve the needs of families. Families click here for shelter information

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Los Angeles tops the nation in chronically homeless people, federal report finds

Gale HollandContact Reporter la-kmparker-1479336237-snap-photo

For the second year in a row, Los Angeles reported the largest number of chronically homeless people in the nation — nearly 13,000 — and 95% of them live outdoors, in cars, tents and encampments, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report to Congress released Wednesday.

Los Angeles also topped the national register this year in homeless veterans — 2,700 — despite slashing the numbers by a third. It also recorded the most unaccompanied homeless youth  — more than 3,000, the report said.

Federal housing officials blamed soaring rents and Congress’ failure to fund affordable housing for a rise in homelessness in Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas and the District of Columbia, which reported the biggest jumps.

“What we saw in Los Angeles and Seattle in particular is consistent with the housing crisis we’re seeing particularly in higher-cost areas on the West Coast,” Norm Suchar, director of the federal housing agency’s homeless assistance programs, said during a phone conference with reporters.

The numbers came from a nationwide street count and shelter survey conducted in January; local results were released in May. City and homeless officials at that time pointed to an improvement

in counting homeless youth to account for all or part of the city’s 11% increase in homelessness and a 5.7 % jump countywide from the year before. Read More


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WIN for iPhones!

WIN (What I Need) is available in the iTune and GooglePlay stores! Designed for youth experiencing homelessness or resource insecurity, this FREE mobile app offers direct connections to Los Angeles area supportive services.  Download it here.

Learn more about WIN

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How Many Tonight?

The National Alliance to End Youth Homelessness roughly estimates that  550,000 unaccompanied youth up to age 24 experience homelessness for longer than one week in any given year.  Experts believe the number is far higher yet there has never been a comprehensive national study to accurately determine the number of runaway and homeless youth in America.

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Thanksgiving Banquet for Homeless/Resource Insecure Individuals in Van Nuys

Wednesday, November 25th, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission will host the Great Thanksgiving Community Banquet at the HELP Center in Van Nuys. Tyrone Street will be blocked off at the corner of Victory in order to set up 1,000 seats banquet style. Onsite will also be a huge resource fair where those in need can receive essential services and goods.The Thanksgiving meal is being prepared by one of the finest caterers in the Entertainment Industry, Bruce’s Catering and sponsored by Keyes Motors.
All are welcome and transportation pick-ups are listed on the backside of the flyer attached.


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Not for the Faint of Heart’ – Combatting the Deepening Crisis of Homelessness

20 Nov 2015, Written by Mark Ridley-Thomas NewsArticle_CityWatchphoto_Nov.20.15_094p
SPECIAL TO CITYWATCH-Sadly, the sight of people sleeping on the streets, begging strangers for money and scavenging for food in the trash has become all too common.

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 44,000 people are homeless on any given night, many of them families with children.

It’s a crisis that has been building for decades, driven by declining incomes and rising housing costs. As a result, a startling one in four Angelenos now lives in poverty.

Los Angeles County has half a million more very low-income households than available apartments so the typical monthly rent has skyrocketed 27 percent since 2000; however, the typical renter’s monthly income plunged 7 percent during the same period, partly due to the Great Recession.

These days, a typical household must earn about $80,000 a year to afford the $2,000 average monthly rent sought by landlords, and still be able to buy groceries, pay for utilities, and other expenses.

This means even preschool teachers, medical assistants, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and many others with full-time jobs cannot afford to live in Los Angeles County. The most vulnerable – those with mental or physical disabilities and drug or alcohol addiction, and who lack family support – are the hardest hit.

The problem is particularly acute in Los Angeles County’s 2nd District, which accounts for about one-third of the County’s homeless population, according to the 2015 Homeless Count.

As Supervisor of the 2nd District, I have a moral imperative and political responsibility to make the fight against homelessness a priority, while recognizing that the effort will require going upstream on a deeply entrenched problem.

We have a good idea of what works – a humane and holistic approach that is also fiscally sustainable in the long term, aimed not only at housing the homeless but preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Since the beginning of my tenure at the Board of Supervisors in 2008, I have pursued a three-pronged strategy:

1) Building strong and coordinated crisis response systems to get people back on their feet.

2) Creating affordable housing with, if necessary, supportive services such as mental health and substance abuse treatments, and even job training and placement, in partnership with community-based organizations.

3) Putting money in people’s pockets by raising wages and spurring economic development that creates jobs easily accessible through public transit.

The Board of Supervisors’ most recent initiative set aside $4 million for teams of social workers and health professionals to go out into the streets of Skid Row and connect homeless single adults to housing and supportive services.

Separately, the Board of Supervisors redirected $7 million from underperforming County programs for homeless families, plus $10 million in other funds, to support the innovative Family Solutions System. Over the past year, it has rapidly rehoused 1,000 families, only 6 percent of whom have fallen back into homelessness.

More than 1,900 new affordable housing units have been constructed over the past six years in the Second District alone.

In 2013, $1 million in 2nd District funds jumpstarted the County’s Flexible Housing Subsidy (CFHS), giving homeless patients a path to independent living after their discharge from County hospitals. The subsidy has been so successful that the County now invests $4 million a year to keep it going. So far, 1,000 units have been made available and another 1,500 units are expected to be available by next summer.

An important tool for the CFHS is temporary residential options like Recuperative Care beds to care for homeless patients after they leave hospital. About $1.8 million has been invested in renovating and operating 40 recuperative care beds in South Los Angeles. Another 100 beds will open at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Campus in December 2015.

We are also expanding Psychiatric Urgent Care Centers to reduce the pressure on Psychiatric Emergency Departments. We opened another such center at the MLK campus in 2014, and are renovating another in Culver City that will open in December 2015.

In addition, we are chipping away at income inequality and the disparity between wages and housing costs. The County’s Board of Supervisors has adopted policies to ensure County-funded construction jobs, such as those at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, go to local residents.

The Board has also adopted motions to ensure employees of County contractors, as well as homecare workers who look after our elderly and disabled, receive a just or living wage.

Given the magnitude of the homeless crisis, however, it is time to scale up.

The Board of Supervisors has approved an additional $51.1 million for homeless prevention and affordable housing programs, in addition to the $50 million previously allocated in the 2015-2016 County budget. It is critical that the County reflect its commitment by dedicating ongoing funds to address this crisis.

The County Chief Executive Officer recently launched a Homeless Initiative that, in partnership with the 88 cities that comprise the County, will look beyond traditional solutions and the usual funding sources to develop a comprehensive strategy. The Board of Supervisors is poised to consider these proposals immediately.

Indeed, we encourage all 88 cities to take part in the Homeless Initiative in any way possible. Cities have the authority, for example, to protect existing housing through stronger rent control enforcement and by clamping down on unscrupulous landlords and developers — both of which would aid in stabilizing rents and housing costs.

There are new tools at our disposal, including the Affordable Care Act, which will help connect more people to needed health and mental health services, and Los Angeles County’s new Office of Diversion and Reentry, which will provide low-level offenders with the support they need to avoid homelessness and become stable and productive members of society.

Combatting homelessness is not for the faint of heart. I know we cannot extinguish homelessness but significant progress can be made with real and thoughtful partnerships among the government, business, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

It must be stressed, however, that our success will depend on our collective commitment to solving what is an undeniable and deepening crisis.
(Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas represents the 2nd District for the County of Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
CityWatch, Vol 13 Issue 94, Pub: Nov 20, 2015 To read more City Watch, click here.

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