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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 June 2011

The Los Angeles Mission is constantly looking for businesses to partner with us as we help our graduates gain employment and careers. Recently we have partnered with the Fresco Markets in a very special new relationship.

Fresco’s business model is to provide healthy food shopping options to underserved communities while also giving back to the community with employment and support. Fresco has employed over 15 of our graduates since they opened the first store. At our June Job Fair the Mission honored Jon and Helena Murga by presenting a certificate of commendation from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for their outstanding partnership with the Los Angeles Mission.

Saturday June 25th Fresco will have a “Taste of Fresco” from 10am to 5pm at 5914 Monterey Road Los Angeles, CA 90042. If you are looking for some free samples and want to thank a new member of the business community and friend of the homeless check it out at www.frescomarkets.com. While you’re at it, meet some of our Los Angeles Mission graduates who are “setting the standard for employees” per Jon and Helena.



Jon and Helena receiving award from President Herb Smith and Mr. Allen Ceravolo director of Los Angeles Mission Career Center.

– Herb Smith, President

I have been studying recent job reports with concern. California lost 29,200 jobs in May according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on June 17, 2011.

Not only does this affect the wider economy but it directly affects the students who complete the Los Angeles Mission Urban Training Institute (our rehabilitation programs) and are now looking for jobs. We continue to struggle to find jobs appropriate to the skills and education of our graduates.

Then I was confronted by Russell Goldsmith in his speech to United Way supporters. Russell pointed out the underlying reality of these unemployment numbers. Not everyone is hit equally. Did you know that in these May 2011 reports the rate of unemployment for those without a high school diploma is 14.7% whereas those with advanced degrees the rate is 4.5%. The rate for Teenagers is 24.2% while Adult women it is 8.0%. Race is also a factor: African Americans are at 16.2%, Whites are at 8% and Asians at 7%.

All of these statistics give pause for consideration to potential societal concerns and also get translated into the faces of those we serve here at the Los Angeles Mission. Not only are these statistics alone disconcerting but one other factor comes into play. That is that skilled jobs (per Mr. Goldsmith) now make up 80% of the jobs in the marketplace. That’s up from less than 40% in the past. Without education and job training our unemployed fall farther and farther behind their peers. We at the Los Angeles Mission need to increase the focus on high school GED completion rates and encouragement to go on to college wherever possible.

But, even more sadly I was confronted with news on Monday June 20, 2011 that the Union Rescue Mission was closing its EMAGO programs and laying off 18 wonderful employees. This really hit home as I have worked with and respect many of those affected in the layoffs and those who will remain behind to continue the work of the Union Rescue Mission. I wish them all well and great success finding employment in these tough times. The Los Angeles Mission has also struggled to balance budgets and maintain service levels. It is our prayer that we will not be forced to contribute to the rolls of the unemployed, but rather continue to help restore lives returning productive and skilled workers to the community – freed from addictions and the stigma of homelessness.

– Herb Smith, President

First a huge thanks to everyone who volunteered and worked on the count. It is a monumental task, but a necessary one.

At first look, it seems we are headed in the right direction with an overall reduction in the number of homeless in Los Angeles. But, there is much work to be done. The increase in veterans and women experiencing homelessness is a challenge. With more pressure put on the Veterans Administration to address and fund the problem, we should expect to see a decline in future numbers. However, with the barriers still in place at the VA and the new mental illness issues coming from recent wars, the challenge will be to get notoriously independent, self-sufficient vets to accept help. I suggest we provide not just a hand out but an expectation of service in return. My experience with vets here at the Los Angeles Mission is that they are willing to be engaged and to seek help but are more likely to do so on their terms – which involve giving back. Give them meaningful activity in exchange for the services they so rightly deserve.

I do believe we will see that family homelessness has declined in large part due to federal stimulus money available and focused on rapid re-housing of families in LA. Mike Arnold, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), who directed the count, makes a strong point that future funding for housing is uncertain. Without it or a strong rebound in jobs and the economy we are likely to return to more displaced families.

The count is not perfect. It is at best an estimate – subject to statistical variations. We could be slightly higher or slightly lower. Either way, based on the 3% reduction in the number of homeless since the last count, we still have 97% of the problem to deal with on a daily basis. As a community we need to reinforce each and every agency, person or governmental program that will allow us to reduce the 97% problem one valuable life at a time. Let’s not cast stones at the count or those committed to solving the problem. Let’s join together in spite of our different approaches and provide housing, jobs, health services and spiritual hope for all those suffering the plight of homelessness, addiction and mental illness.

– Herb Smith, President