The magnitude of the homelessness crisis here in Los Angeles and across the nation can often seem overwhelming. The persistence of the challenges, and the barriers to what seem to be common sense solutions, can easily lead both the housed and the unhoused in our community to lose hope.
Yet my team and I see inspiring reasons for hope every single day. As we help individual people who have names and stories escape the dangers and uncertainty of life on the street, and provide them the safety and dignity of interim and permanent housing, we see victory over homelessness.
Jolinn Bracey was among the first clients at the Chandler Tiny Homes community when it opened in February. Jolinn had been homeless for five years, living in her car at various locations across North Hollywood. When we were about to open the Chandler village, outreach workers connected her with our service provider, Hope of the Valley, and she soon moved into her tiny home.
When I spoke with her last month, Jolinn told me she had found great comfort in finally being safe and secure. As she put it, interim housing in our Chandler tiny homes “helped me to regain a sense of normalcy.” And now, because she found stability and services in our tiny home village, Jolinn has been able to move into her own apartment in a nearby complex, where she will face the future with newfound hope and optimism.
Jolinn’s story is just one of many hard-won victories in the struggle against homelessness and despair. I recently spoke with John Brock, who had also been one of the first residents of the Chandler village. John has made the successful transition from sleeping on the street to permanent housing and a good job, thanks to the interim step of bridge housing in our tiny home community. John credited the tiny homes with giving him the time and space he needed to restart his life.
In the last year and a half — despite all the obstacles posed by COVID, federal court orders, outdated municipal code provisions, and the eternal chorus of naysayers of all political stripes — we’ve built enough interim and permanent housing capacity to accommodate every single person who was living unsheltered in my district as of the last comprehensive homeless count. We’ve also significantly increased access to services such as housing navigation, storage for personal items, job training, hygiene, mental health and substance abuse care.
As a result, you may have noticed that several of the most dangerous and entrenched encampments on the sidewalks of Council District 2 (such as those under the 134 freeway at Lankershim and under the 101 at Moorpark) are now gone. For many, many months, our robust outreach and engagement efforts have offered better alternatives to everyone who was living in these encampments — alternatives that we can now actually provide thanks to the amount of bridge housing we’ve built.
Overcoming the root causes of our national crisis of homelessness will take many years of concerted effort at all levels of government. In the meantime, here in the East Valley, we are moving forward, changing lives and building hope — one person at a time