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The Los Angeles Mission is a non-profit homeless shelter serving the hungry and homeless of Downtown's Hope Central (historically referred to as Skid Row) for over 70 years.

Archive for January 2008

Have you read this article?

    Poll: People worry about being homeless

    By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer Wed Nov 14, 4:51 PM ET

    Nearly a third of Americans have at one point worried about becoming homeless and many more are taking in friends and relatives needing a home, a survey found.

    The homelessness issue has touched more than those who are living on the streets, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

    "People are worried even though it might not ever happen to them," said Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless. "When people read the news and read about bankruptcies, home foreclosures and auto plants being closed, they worry that they may be next."

We all have anxiety over something in life. For everyone who endured Psychology 101 Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “safety” comes to mind. Apparently one third of us worry about housing for ourselves or our loved one. More significant is that 92% of those polled by Gallup felt more needed to be done.

If 92% of the population feels we need to do more to address the issues of homelessness then I think that is a pretty good mandate to act. It appears 60% of those responding think government should take more action. Fine! That leaves the other 40% who look to charities such as the Los Angeles Mission. That should fill all of our to-do lists for 2008!

And, for those who are worried, rest assured that the Los Angeles Mission will be here to help.

–Herb Smith, President

At a time when the need for housing units continues to increase, why is there any argument about replacing what we tear down?

The Washington think tank Center on Budget & Policy Priorities has a report on a bill passed by the US House of Representatives that would continue a program that assists public housing groups in revitalizing deteriorating public housing. The CBPP calls for reforms in the program and additional funding. The report, available online at http://www.cbpp.org/1-16-08hous.htm that goes on to state:

    100,000 of the public housing units slated to be demolished under the first 15 years of HOPE VI awards will not be replaced by other units affordable to poor families. The House bill would stem this loss of affordable housing by requiring that all units demolished under future HOPE VI awards must be replaced.

    The human side of HOPE VI has been its weakest component. The House bill will help provide increased opportunities for the severely disadvantaged families that live in distressed public housing by:

  • Ensuring that they receive comprehensive relocation assistance;
  • Protecting them from being screened out of the newly redeveloped communities;
  • Requiring that all displaced families receive supportive services and expanding potential funding for their provision; and
  • Encouraging attention to the needs of those most vulnerable who have difficulty securing housing in the private market.

Whatever beltway mentality surrounds this program, the fact is we need those 100,000 units. If they were available in Los Angeles it would go a long way towards ending our current dearth of units for our homeless. In fact, there might be a few left over to help those who are currently becoming homeless in this emerging economic crisis.

–Herb Smith, President

American idol is upon us again. So too is Project 50.

The vote is taken and the search is on for the fifty lucky contenders for this year’s prize… Skid Row housing. Well, it is LA!

According to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agenda: “Skid Row Housing Trust shall provide fifty (50) permanent housing units with Shelter Plus Care rental subsidies to the Project over a period of one (1) year. The Trust shall provide these units by targeting vacancies that become available over a period of one (1) year due to natural turnover.

Housing placement can also be aided by including provisions for temporary housing during the application period such as hotel vouchers or rent subsidies. Provisions for a small number of housing options outside Skid Row will be built into the program.”

I regret that 50 persons already in line for housing will be bumped by this pilot program, let’s not make that part of the permanent process. Line jumping is never well received.

The New York City organization called Common Ground (according to NPR’s Nations) had a much touted 87% reduction in homelessness. That percentage refers in fact to 48 people sleeping around Times Square that was reduced to 7. That 48 number, by the way, is fewer persons than spend the night in the Los Angeles Mission Lobby every night. And most of these would welcome permanent supportive housing were it available.

Some auditions are not just for a moment of fame, they are for a life-time of safety and stability. Let’s not encourage migration back to the concrete in hopes of making the “most vulnerable” list of who’s who in skid row.

–Herb Smith, President