Is La-La Land becoming more of a City of Angels?
For decades, Los Angeles has been referred as the "homeless capital of America", given its large homeless population. When the latest Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report showed that the nation's homeless population decreased and Los Angeles' homelessness increased, many critics certainly assumed the second largest city in America continued to earn its La-La Land label.
But in 2013, there are signs that angelic efforts are on the way in Los Angeles to reduce homelessness, despite the debate over public feeding, homelessness in their public libraries and Union Train Station, and the fact that the region has 58,000 people who are homeless.
So here are Los Angeles' top 10 advances in reducing homelessness in 2013:
10. La La Land Gets A New Mayor. Months ago, Los Angeles elected a young, hard-working former city council president as its mayor. While campaigning, he promised to help end homelessness in the city. Homeless advocates are cautously optimistic. Besides, his wife is a board member of one of the city's major homeless agencies.
9. A New Coordinated Entry System. It sounds like a control tower software program at LAX, but it is actually an innovative initiative in Skid Row, LA's ground-zero of homelessness. It brings together its homeless programs in order to make sure the most needy people on the streets access services and housing. More than 20 homeless agencies participated.
8. High Profile Angelenos Invest in the Cause. Sure, Tinseltown is famous for its celebrities who write seven-figure checks to their charity of choice. But some well-known names are doing more - they are investing in the work to end LA's homelessness. Including LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and the scions of Conrad N. Hilton and J. Paul Getty.
7. Public and Private Groups Work Together to House Veterans. Acknowledging the unique difficulties of housing homeless veterans in this sprawling metropolis, the Veterans Affairs of Greater LA partnered with the Housing Authorities of the city and county of Los Angeles, and a local private homeless agency to find, screen, support, and house 900 formerly homeless veterans in the LA region. Such an effort has never been done before, but for those who were housed it was mission accomplished.
6. Permanent Supportive Housing Becomes the Paramount Solution. Ten years ago, a New York-based group set up a local office in LA to promote a unique idea: give the most needy people on the streets an actual home and surround them with support services. Ten years later, the Corporation for Supportive Housing has provided assistance in building over 2,000 supportive homes in Los Angeles.
5. Numbers Make a Difference in LA County. From counting who is on LA's streets, to prioritizing the top 50 most hurting people on Skid Row, to housing 60 of the most vulnerable homeless veterans, the County has developed programs to systematically reduce the number of people living on its streets, that continue to be highly effective in 2013.
4. Housing People Rapidly Becomes a Trend. To build a new home takes years. To find rental assistance and an apartment takes months. The 100K Homes Campaign, a national initiative to house 100,000 of America's most vulnerable homeless, came into LA this year to help create a "Rapid Results" strategy that would help people access rental assistance and place them into apartments within days, rather than months or years.
3. Less LA Families Are Without a Home. Despite the fact that there are more people homeless in LA this year, there are less families in Los Angeles who are homeless. Programs like Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing, Family Solution Centers, and First 5, effectively helped families off the streets.
2. Saving Private Ryan Reduced Veteran Homelessness. Like homelessness among LA families, a reduction in the number of LA's homeless veterans was a positive trend in the work of ending homelessness. In 2013, the number of veterans living on the streets of LA dropped 23%.
1. More Angelenos are Home For Good. Launched in 2010, the partnership between the United Way of Greater LA and the LA Chamber of Commerce created a bold initiative to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016. As of the end of this year, they have helped their partnering agencies house 10,000 homeless Angelenos.