A New Idea to Reduce Homelessness

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Homelessness is such an enormous crisis impacting the lives of Angelenos from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. As we work on a holistic strategy to address the issue by providing people with housing and services, we also need to provide a pathway to employment. 
 
That's why on Tuesday, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and I introduced a motion calling for a new, innovative pilot initiative that will pair rapid rehousing with job training in order to get people off the streets and prevent them from falling back into homelessness. 
 
The city's current practice is to give money to nonprofit service providers and wait for results. With the our new pilot proposal, the city will play a proactive leadership role by overseeing the pairing of two distinct city services -- housing and jobs -- together in one program. These are services the city is already providing, services that we've already budgeted for this year, so taxpayers won't have to pay an additional penny. If successful, the year-long pilot in the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles could provide a template for reducing homelessness throughout Los Angeles. 
 
What the Program Does
 
The pilot program will help a total of 50 homeless people in the San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles get housing and a job -- two things all people need to survive in our society today.It will bring together the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE) to provide rapid rehousing subsidies and job training through employment with nonprofit organizations. 
 
The program will work by providing rapid rehousing through a subsidy for qualified homeless families and individuals. With the support of LAHSA, nonprofits and the City of Los Angeles, rapid rehousing will also come with wrap-around supportive services to help people overcome personal barriers that play a crucial role in housing retention. These housing services will be paired with a jobs program overseen by LA:RISE, a new service that subsidizes employment and supportive services to train and prepare unemployed people for continued mainstream employment. Employment for pilot participants will initially be provided by a nonprofit. Participants will gain paid work experience in a supportive work environment.
 
Even in the best of circumstances, when a homeless person does not suffer from debilitating mental health or substance abuse challenges, changing that person's life often requires a significant investment in services. 
 
A rapid re-housing voucher by itself only offers a six-month respite of housing and opens the possibility for recidivism back onto the street without a sustainable source of income when the voucher expires. Similarly, enrolling a homeless person into a job training program without offering a place for that person to live and adapt to a housed way of life will prevent them from re-entering the mainstream job market. In a vacuum, each of these programs is hugely important, but each only provides half the solution to bringing an individual permanently out of homelessness. For many homeless people, true housing success comes from both a roof over their head and an income to pay for it. 
 
This pilot, which brings these services together, will explore how housing and employment together can create a viable path to lifelong independence. It's my hope that this pilot program will succeed and give us a new template for our citywide work to reduce homelessness.
 
If you have comments about the pilot program, don't hesitate to contact me: paul.krekorian@lacity.org or (213) 473-7002.