Supervisors Approve Expansion of Services for Homeless Families

By EGP News Service

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to expand a program providing a combination of crisis intervention, emergency shelter, mental health care and housing services to homeless families.

The program — which combines three previously independent efforts — is designed to specifically address the problems of homeless women and children.

Supervisor Gloria Molina said it is a “fundamental redesign in the county’s approach to delivering housing, mental health, and social programs to the homeless, from one centered in downtown Los Angeles to one utilizing regional offices throughout the county.”

“This is a program that I’ve been involved in for more than 10 years and it was really tough to get through the board the first time,” Molina said. “Many people were critical and claimed that I was criminalizing poverty.”

The program, dubbed the Homeless Family Solution, was first piloted on Skid Row and will now be expanded across the county. It is a collaborative approach that reaches across various county departments to offer supportive services, like mental health and substance abuse treatment, alongside housing alternatives.

“Skid Row usually isn’t where people start out – it’s where they end up,” Molina said.  “So while we’ll continue our outreach in Skid Row, we also want to help people from becoming homeless by connecting them with intensive case management, supportive services, and rapid rehousing at regional locations that utilize a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach.”

The new strategy will be used to determine how over $10 million in local, state, and federal funds will be used to move the County’s homeless population into permanent shelter, said Molina in a statement announcing the program’s expansion.

A key element of the pilot program was intensive case management, Molina said. Case managers made sure clients showed up for social service appointments and received all the benefits they were eligible for.

“Our goal was simple – to connect families not just to shelter but to whatever social services they needed while they did their utmost to find permanent employment,” Molina said.

On Tuesday, advocates told stories of families pulled off the streets and successfully integrated in the community.

“Something really awesome is going on … we’re moving from trying to address programs and deciding to begin to address these issues as a system,” creating better solutions, said Kirkpatrick Tyler, program director for the Weingart Family Solutions Center.

According to a 2013 homeless count cited by the county, there were 7,391 homeless family members that year.

Funding will be allocated geographically based on the number of homeless in any given area.

 

Information from City News Services used in this report.

 
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February 20, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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