Two years ago, I stood with my City Council colleagues and local business owners in the charred ashes of a massive fire that brought down the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission's warehouse and emergency homeless shelter in North Hollywood. We were saddened by the loss, but undaunted by the task ahead of us. That day, we asked everyone in the San Fernando Valley and beyond to join us in a campaign to rescue the Rescue Mission.
The building was decimated by a raging fire so big that it took 135 brave Los Angeles City firefighters 90 minutes to get it under control. In that fire, the Rescue Mission not only lost its shelter and warehouse, it lost its mobile shower trucks and other vehicles, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated items that the Rescue Mission would have sold at its three Valley thrift stores. Those sales fund a large portion of the homeless services the Rescue Mission provides.
The full cost of the damage caused by the fire was staggering to an organization that relies entirely on the generosity of others. But we were all determined to do everything possible to help the Rescue Mission get back on its feet.
In the days and months after the fire, the Valley community came together in a way I've never witnessed before. Because of the hard work and tenacity of the Rescue Mission's staff, the helping hand of businesses, and the generosity of thousands of Valley residents, the temporary losses turned into lasting gains.
Today, not only is the Rescue Mission back on its feet, it is standing stronger and taller than ever before. Our joint work to rescue the Mission awakened something in the entire community and put our focus squarely on the plight of homeless families in the San Fernando Valley.
The Rescue Mission now has a 90-bed shelter in Northridge and, this week, I proudly christened their 10,000 square foot warehouse, which stands in the same North Hollywood location as the building that burned in that terrible fire. The new warehouse will house all the donations that people provide to stock the Rescue Mission's three Valley thrift stores. That's 8,000 individual items that will be sorted, prepped, priced and processed by Rescue Mission employees each day.
These donations fuel the Rescue Mission's life-changing work to end homelessness, services that are more critical right now as the number of homeless people continues to rise countywide. In the Valley, this year's Homeless Count numbers showed a 35 percent increase in homelessness, which is something I'm not only concerned about, but something I'm actively working to reverse. To do this, we will need more services, more collaboration and more options for shelter and housing in our Valley.
As my City Council colleagues and I continue to take steps to reduce homelessness, we will need to work even more closely with partners in the non-profit community. Because Valley residents made it possible, the Rescue Mission will continue to be one of those partners in our struggle to improve neighborhoods and serve Angelenos in need.
Find out how you can help the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission here.
Read more about the Rescue Mission's new warehouse here and take a look at the photos of the new warehouse.