Archive | Latest News

Welcome WIN Trenton!

January 23, 2020
Posted in

OCLA issues software license in Trenton NJ to support Mercer County Homeless Youth.  OCLA Founder & WIN visionary Denise McCain-Tharnstrom welcomes WIN Trenton at the  Launch ceremony in Trenton City Hall, Hosted by Mayor Reed Guciora January 18th, 2020

Continue Reading

The Intersection of Human Trafficking and Homelessness

January 15, 2020
Posted in ,
This post is authored by Karen Romero, Freedom Network Training Institute Director at Freedom Network USA.  January is the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month, an annual effort to increase awareness about what human trafficking really is, and what it looks like, in the United States. The relatively new awareness of this crime has provided much needed protections for survivors, but has also introduced misconceptions.

What is Human Trafficking?

At its essence, human trafficking exploits a person through force, fraud, or coercion for forced labor or commercial sex. Traffickers prey on the vulnerabilities of individuals in poverty, experiencing homelessness, or who are part of marginalized populations. Communities that are poor, disenfranchised, and underserved are often the most vulnerable. Trafficking victims are generally left financially destitute, which in turn makes them susceptible to re-exploitation. Individuals who lack safe housing are more likely to engage in dangerous employment to meet their needs, making them vulnerable to trafficking. A 2016 study by Loyola University and Covenant House found that nearly 1 in 5 youth who received shelter services from Covenant House had experienced some form of human trafficking.[1]
In the US, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) has defined trafficking as ●     sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or ●     the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.[2] A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.

Human Trafficking in the US

Trafficking happens in every state and can occur in any industry such as education, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, restaurants, among others. We also know that labor trafficking is the most common type of trafficking worldwide.[3] Because human trafficking is underreported and under-identified, there is no clear figure as to how many people are trafficked in the US. Not all victims of trafficking have been able to access services or have reported their experience, therefore statistics can be unreliable. One way to get a sense of the magnitude of human trafficking in the US is through the number of survivors receiving federally funded services. Grantees of the Department of Justice reported serving 8,913 clients between July 2017 and June 2018. [4]

Survivors Need Access to Housing

Safe and stable housing is a critical resource for survivors of human trafficking as they exit their trafficking situation and continue their journey towards healing. Anti-trafficking service providers often rely on emergency housing resources such as homeless or domestic violence shelters to meet the immediate needs of survivors. However, these short-term options can leave survivors homeless once their stay has ended.

Safe Housing options allow individuals to concentrate on their psychological needs, including any effects of complex trauma that they experience. When a survivor’s basic needs (including safe and affordable housing) are not met they must concentrate on basic survival. This creates an environment that makes them more vulnerable to new exploitative situations.  – International Institute of St. Louis, Missouri[5]

Providers in the housing and homelessness field are likely already serving survivors of trafficking without knowing it. Not all survivors will disclose their trafficking experience and some may not be aware that their exploitation is considered trafficking. Housing programs have the opportunity to ensure that their services are trauma-informed and person-centered. By creating systems that focus on providing the individual choice and voice in their housing, we can ensure that all clients, including those who have experienced violence and exploitation, can access housing options that feel safe for them. As providers, we have an opportunity to expand current referral systems and build connections between housing and homeless services and the anti-trafficking field. If you want to learn more, please visit Freedom Network USA’s Housing Project and the Resource Library, which contain materials including fact sheets, videos, and templates for providers to access practical tools and respond to the individual needs of survivors in a person-centered, trauma-informed manner. To learn more about this project, visit For inquiries, contact Karen Romero at [email protected]. Notes [1] Covenant House [2] US State Department [3] International Labour Organization, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery [4] US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2019, page 486 [5] Freedom Network USA 2018 Member Report The post The Intersection of Human Trafficking and Homelessness appeared first on National Alliance to End Homelessness. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Leaves In Place Ruling Barring Prosecution Of Homeless

December 16, 2019
Posted in
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear Boise’s defense of its policy of sometimes prosecuting homeless people for sleeping in public after a lower court found ordinances in Idaho’s capital violated the U.S. Constitution’s bar on cruel and unusual punishment. US cities continue to struggle  with how to address the issue of homelessness. Read More. Continue Reading

OCLA receives Great NonProfits Seal!

November 6, 2019
Posted in

GreatNonprofits focuses on helping people make great giving decisions through socially sourced feedback and reviews.”  Bill Gates

Thanks to WIN users and OCLA supporters who submitted their reviews of OCLA’s programs, OCLA has been recognized as a Great NonProfit! The GreatNonprofits seal is the second most trusted rating seal, after the Better BusinessBureau.  (According to a study by Software Advice) We are honored by the recognition and appreciate all of your contributions!  Read our reviews here!

Continue Reading

November is Homeless Awareness Month

November 5, 2019
Posted in

Join the fight to end homelessness throughout the month of November. Volunteer at at Soup Kitchen. Give Gently Used Clothing to a Local Mission. DONATE to the WIN app and empower someone to find help today. Read Don’t Look Away Homeless People Are Your Neighbors.



By Engaging Their Communities—and Talking to People on the Streets—Angelenos Can Help People Find Housing

Auto Draft | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Photo by Aaron Salcido.


Establish a relationship with a homeless services provider in your area. Don’t be afraid to engage homeless people, and be sure to listen to them. If you give money or your time, make sure your donation reflects what homeless people say they need, not what you think they need.

And most of all, treat the people you encounter on the streets as your neighbors—because they are.

These were just a few of the suggestions at a Zócalo/UCLA Downtown event titled, “What Can Everyday Angelenos Do About Homelessness?” Before a full house at the Downtown Independent on Main Street in Los Angeles, a panel of experts who study and serve unhoused people sought to correct misperceptions that make people fear their homeless neighbors. They also urged people in Los Angeles to channel their frustration into engaging with homeless people in ways that address real needs—and even to attack the economic, criminal justice and health systems that contribute to producing homelessness in the first place.

It is perhaps most essential, panelists said, that our responses to homelessness be flexible, because homeless people are not all the same. And many common assumptions—that they are all mentally ill, or that they don’t have jobs—are false.

California Policy Lab at UCLA director Janey Rountree, who is also a member of the National Alliance to End Homelessness Research Council, said that 80 percent of homeless people in L.A. County have a work history in California, and one in five homeless people are currently working. She and other panelists also noted that most homeless people live unhoused in the same areas where they once had housing.

And people can become homeless in in many different ways and for many different reasons—in one case in Rountree’s research, an unpaid parking ticket was the trigger.

“It’s a very diverse group of people,” she said. “And the one thing they have in common is deep, grinding poverty.”

Rountree said that, as a resident of Hollywood, she will often walk past an encampment with her small child, and “I believe it’s totally safe to do that.” But she also talks with her child and neighbors about what is happening, and she makes a point of knowing the service providers in her neighborhood, touring their facilities, and asking what they need.

When she herself posed that question, a homeless services provider in her neighborhood told her, “‘I want people to show up once a week and have a conversation with homeless people at our coffee hour,’” Rountree recalled. She added that if you’re not as comfortable with volunteering or direct engagement, you should educate yourself on state and local efforts to address housing and homelessness, and push your elected representatives to focus on solutions.

The event’s moderator, Los Angeles Times editorial board member Carla Hall, who has reported extensively on homelessness, pressed the panelists for specifics about what people can do when they encounter homeless people. Should they provide food, or water, or money? Hall herself said she gives money to homeless people, even though acquaintances sometimes warn her that it won’t be spent on the right things—whatever that means. “I ask them, ‘What do you want them to do, put a down payment on a condo?’” she said.

In response to Hall’s queries, Christine Margiotta, executive director of Social Venture Partners Los Angeles, replied: “The first thing is to acknowledge their humanity. Let them know that we see them” because homeless people often feel invisible.

But Margiotta also argued that Angelenos must go beyond everyday engagement, and work to change systems. Employers must pay wages high enough for workers to afford housing. Society must confront racism in criminal justice, which is reflected in a homeless population in Los Angeles that is one-third African American, even though just eight percent of the county’s overall population is, she said.

UCLA sociologist Randall Kuhn, who co-founded the UCLA Transdisciplinary Homelessness Research Initiative, said our desire to avoid engaging with homeless people is natural—and that our frustration is understandable, since declarations of a homelessness “emergency” and the passage of ballot measures to support housing and homeless services don’t solve the problem. When she herself posed that question, a homeless services provider in her neighborhood told her, “I want people to show up once a week and have a conversation with homeless people at our coffee hour,’” Rountree recalled.

But frustration and avoidance are wrong-headed, he added. Kuhn argued that while homelessness may be shocking here—where we have an expectation that everyone will be housed—homelessness and encampments are common around the world. Noting his own research on health programs and migration in Bangladesh, he said people there form informal slum settlements for the same reasons people do in L.A.: to protect and help each other.

“When people are forced to live on the street, they will naturally congregate,” he said.

Kuhn said that in order to do more to help unhoused people, we need a greater understanding of homelessness—both from research (there are not nearly enough studies on those who don’t go to shelters), and from thinking more about how vulnerable and exposed you can feel if you’re homeless.

“Imagine someone was in your living room and watching everything you did … every fight with your spouse, every time you talked to yourself, everything you drank. You would be humiliated no matter what they saw,” he said.

Chris Ko, Managing Director of Homelessness and Strategic Initiatives at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said that homeless people can feel both intensely visible and invisible at the same time. When unhoused and housed people encounter each other, “understanding that the dynamic is awkward for both of us is important to remember.”

Ko said we must recognize that homelessness affects all of us, even if we’re just driving by, because “It’s a reminder to us that that could happen to any of us … If you mess up, if you’re perceived as messing up, there’s a version of that where we throw you away on the street.”

One way to respond to the stress that we feel in encountering homeless people is to help, Ko and other panelists said. Ko argued not just for engaging with people on the street, but also for finding ways to give time and money for flexible purposes. For all the funding now devoted to some homeless services and housing, there are expenses associated with obtaining housing—such as security deposits or furniture—for which there is little funding. You also might consider helping homeless people with their searches for apartments.

“It’s hard to move—imagine doing it without an address or a vehicle,” he said.

You may opt out or contact us anytime.

In response to an audience member’s question about protests against establishing shelters or bridging centers for homeless people in L.A. neighborhoods, Ko said that it’s important to listen to such objections. He also said that Angelenos often worry that bringing homeless services to their neighborhood will make it resemble Skid Row, where there are 2,000 beds on one block, and a lot of shelter residents empty out onto the street at about the same time in the morning. In the bridge facilities now being proposed for and built in neighborhoods around the city, there are only 50 to 75 beds, and people stay inside for longer periods of time, with more care and support.

In response to a question about negative media coverage of homeless people, Kuhn, the UCLA sociologist, encouraged people to engage with those who spread misinformation about homeless people on Nextdoor and other social media outlets.

Another audience question involved whether universal basic income could address homelessness; Rountree said she wasn’t sure, but that research suggests that one-time or short-term cash assistance to unhoused people can make a huge impact.

“Be very flexible,” she advised in addressing homelessness, adding: “I really resist the idea that there is one solution.”

The post Don’t Look Away. Homeless People Are Your Neighbors appeared first on Zócalo Public Square.


Continue Reading

Homelessness Addressed by New Bills

November 5, 2019
Posted in

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills Thursday to confront the crisis of homelessness

New California legislation to assist city and county governments by removing regulatory barriers to fight homelessness will go into effect January 2020.  Among issues addressed  in the bill package are:  Provision of a CEQA exemption for supportive housing and shelters in the city of Los Angeles; Authorization of a five-year pilot program in the following counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Clara and Ventura) to expand the scope of an Multidisciplinary Resource Team to include serving individuals who are at risk of homelessness; Authorization for the use of any armory deemed vacant by the California Military Department for the purpose of providing temporary shelter from hazardous weather conditions for homeless persons;  Renames the runaway and homeless youth shelters run by the Department of Social Services as “youth homelessness and prevention centers,” and expands the categories of youth for which the centers are required to provide services to also include youth at risk of homelessness and youth exhibiting status offender behavior, and expands the time a youth can stay in the center from 21 to 90 days.

Ridley-Thomas Applauds Governor’s Action to Address Homelessness
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, also co-chair of the Council of Regional Homeless Advisors, commented in a statement Thursday night, which follows:

“I applaud Governor Gavin Newsom for responding with urgency and conviction to address what I consider the moral and civic crisis of our time.

“By signing a compendium of critical legislation, he removed regulatory barriers that have slowed or prevented us from building supportive housing and shelters. This complements his historic $1 billion investment in the state budget specifically to address homelessness.

Continue Reading

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

November 5, 2019
Posted in

October is known for Halloween, but what many may not realize it is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For millions home is NOT a sanctuary. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.

11,766 women were killed by a current or ex-male partner between 2001-2012 — shockingly, that is nearly twice as many as the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 (6,488) according to the Huffington Post.  Too many people who are in an abusive relationship will stay with their partner because their self-esteem is destroyed, they are trapped by the Cycle of Abuse and believe that their partner does truly love them, they feel trapped and unable to support a life outside the relationship. Many are simply too frightened to leave.- and it can be very dangerous to leave. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving an abusive partner than any other time in the relationship.

Domestic Violence is also a significant contributing cause of homelessness. In 2019, the Los Angeles County  Homeless Count documented more than 3000 homeless women and men who were fleeing domestic violence.intimate partner violence. Nationally, 57% of all homeless women report domestic violence as an immediate cause of their homelessness. (From National to LA-by

OCLA’s WIN app and the 2019 Directory offer domestic violence victims connections  to local service providers trained to support abuse victims.

To find help using the WIN App: 1. Open Crisis and click on the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault filter 2. Open Shelter and click on the Domestic Violence Shelters 3. Open Hotlines and click on Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Hotlines
To find help using the Directory, open the Directory to your region and search under Shelter or  Crisis categories. Additional support is available searching the Hotline or All county sections.


Continue Reading

2019 Directory of Services for LA’s Homeless

November 5, 2019
Posted in

OCLA has provided for free the 2019 Directory of Services for Homeless Youth and Adults in Los Angeles. How? 1. The Directory can be opened and read for free on OCLA’s website, ( see box link on homepage) 2. Hard copies are available for use in every LA City Public Library, every school district and on OCLA’s website. 

Continue Reading

WIN TikTok Competition at Safe Place for Youth- WINNERS!

November 5, 2019
Posted in

Tik Tok  “Use WIN” Glowup Video Winners – August 2019


Team WIN ( Relly Brown, far left and Perla Esperanza far right) with Safe Place for Youth First Place Winners!

On August 21st, @Team WIN was proud to announce the winners of the #WINapp #GlowUp TikTok competition! Ten youth ages 20-26 submitted personal video about how the WIN app can help someone who is homeless. These were uploaded to OCLA’s WIN What I Need Tik Tok page in late July. On August 21st, the WIN Team awarded prizes to the youth whose videos received the most likes and views. Erin (@for3v3rstrong) wrote and recited a fantastic rap/rhyme – WIN is a Seed. Her her fellow 1st place winner, an experienced social media and TikTok member, submitted a cute short that you should see!

Continue Reading

TIKTOC #WINAPP Competition

August 13, 2019
Posted in

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!


Continue Reading