Donation Drive for the Homeless Sunday in Eagle Rock

August 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Recycled Resources for the Homeless and 14th District Councilmember Jose Huizar will host a sleeping bag donation drive on Sunday at Eagle Rock City Hall.

The nonprofit group is asking for donations of not just sleeping bags, but also underwear, summer clothing and toiletries for both men and women.

The goal is to replenish supplies for the local homeless population, said Recycled Resources Community Relations and Housing Coordinator Monica Alcaraz.

Homelessness in the community has increased, according to Alcaraz, who said they are committed to holding donation drive on an ongoing basis with Huizar’s support.

“We have a good working relations with them [Huizar’s office],” Alcaraz said. “They advocate for us and help find ways to bring services.”

The donation drive is a way that everyone can help those in need because most are from the Northeast L.A. area, Huizar told EGP in an email.

“Studies have shown that people who fall into homelessness tend to remain in the neighborhoods they grew up in or were living in, and that is the case in Northeast LA,” the councilman’s statement pointed out.

“The work of Recycled Resources and the scores of volunteers, residents, and stakeholders who support them are proof that we can make a difference,” Huizar said.

Alcaraz said Huizar’s office wants to hold donation drives at least twice a year, one in the summer and one in winter, to help replenish supplies for the homeless.

“During the summer months, we hand out water and Gatorade … because it has been so hot and people can become dehydrated,” Alcaraz said, explaining some of the seasonal differences in their collection goals.

Recycled Resources is based in Highland Park and provides everyday necessities like toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary napkins and socks to people experiencing homelessness in the Northeast Los Angeles community.

The organization, founded in 2008 by Rebecca Prine, works to create trusting and supportive relationships with people experiencing homelessness.

The group also provides meals at their drop in center located at All Saints Episcopal Church in Highland Park. Showers of Hope, a mobile shower organization for homeless people, provides the opportunity to bathe.

The center also provides information on resources their homeless clients can use to get started on the path to housing, Alcaraz says.

Donations for the current drive can be dropped off today through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Eagle Rock City Hall, and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Donations can also be dropped off every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

People experiencing homelessness can call or text (323) 999-4816 for information on resources or visit the drop in center at All Saints Episcopal Church, located at 5619 Monte Vista St. Los Angeles, CA 90042.

Council Approves Donation For Homeless Shelter

December 17, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved a $20,000 donation to a nonprofit organization that operates a 36-bed homeless shelter at a Highland Park church and was earlier denied funding.

The money will go to Recycled Resources, which is working with All Saints Episcopal Church to turn pews into beds. The group has been relying on crowd-funding efforts and financial help from the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council.

Monica Alcaraz, a volunteer with the group, said the funds will help the group reimburse the church for heating, lighting and other costs.

The church is “not charging (us) anything, but we feel it’s necessary to pay for the costs they are incurring,” she said.

The money may also be used for food, Metro TAP cards and other necessities, she said.

Councilman Jose Huizar introduced the motion to take the $20,000 out of his 14th Council District’s discretionary account.

“I wanted to ensure that they have the necessary funding to continue their life-altering work during this time of need and upcoming El Nino storms,” he said.

“I had the pleasure of recently meeting several NELA (Northeast Los Angeles) shelter residents, and I am profoundly impressed by their thankfulness, grace and high spirits.”

Recycled Resources is also hoping to apply for more funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which provides money to winter shelters.

The funds could pay those who are volunteers who are helping despite having day jobs, making sure there is better chance for the shelter to keep running, Alcaraz said.

The nonprofit organization may work with Ascencia, a more experienced shelter provider that operates an 80-bed shelter in Glendale and already receives funding from LAHSA.

Natalie Komuro, executive director for Ascencia, said it is working out a contract with LAHSA to obtain funding for the All Saints Episcopal Church site.

Because LAHSA’s winter shelter funding is distributed based on the number of beds, Komuro said it may face a $30,000 funding gap because the number of staff that may be needed and other operating expenses stays the same whether it is a 36-bed or 80-bed shelter.

The shelter also faced a hurdle recently when LAHSA deemed the church site unsuitable, with the agency’s officials noting that pews were being used as the beds.

This prompted Councilman Gil Cedillo to recommend the Bridewell Armory, a facility owned by the city. However, Recycled Resources volunteers criticized this site as being unready for immediate use.

Alcaraz described the armory as “inhabitable,” saying it needs remodeling and has no electricity or running water. Ceja countered that the location is actually not as bad as described and can be quickly converted into a shelter.

Komuro said it appears Cedillo, whose district includes the church site, has since been able to persuade LAHSA to reconsider the church location, and is now moving forward with the contract to provide winter shelter funding.

Cedillo appeared to signal his support for the church site, authoring a motion approved by the council today that includes Ascencia as the city’s designated temporary shelter provider for the All Saints Episcopal Church location.

Cedillo aide Fredy Ceja said this will allow Ascencia to work with LAHSA to obtain the per-bed shelter funding, and relax building rules that typically makes the church shelter vulnerable to being shut down by city building officials.

Designating Ascencia as the service provider for the church shelter would also make the group eligible for the next round of city homeless services funding, after it was unable to get funding from the $12.4 million in emergency homeless relief money that was proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti and recently approved by the City Council.

Alcaraz said that despite Cedillo’s motion, there are still many unknowns.

Ascencia’s board still needs to decide if it would be financially feasible to take over the shelter, so there is no guarantee they would agree to do it, and LAHSA has not directly told Recycled Resources that the church site has been approved, Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz, who is also president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, added that Cedillo could have done more to help them get the relief funding.

Cedillo had originally intended to assign funds to their shelter, but instead of specifying from the outset that some of the $12.4 million should go to the All Saints Episcopal Church shelter, he had submitted their request using the more vague wording of “Highland Park shelter.”

This move, or Cedillo’s unwillingness to commit to the church site, could have hurt their chances of getting the money, Alcaraz said. She said Cedillo appeared to want to push the armory facility, located in the 14th Council District.

“Why not support something that’s already happening, and going to continue to happen?” Alcaraz said, referring to the existing church shelter.

“Or at least I’m going to try.”

 

Refugio de Invierno Abre sus Puertas en Highland Park

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Cuando tres hermanas indigentes escucharon que una iglesia en Highland Park pronto abriría un refugio por las noches, rápidamente fueron a comprobarlo. Después de todo, su única opción era continuar durmiendo en el piso de un baño público del parque Sycamore Grove.

Las bancas de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal les dio la bienvenida con un saco de dormir, una almohada y algunos artículos de aseo.

La pequeña cocina improvisada les ofrece comida caliente mientras que ven películas en el proyector de la iglesia.

Read this article in English: Winter Shelter Opens in NELA

Han pasado más de dos semanas desde que las hermanas comenzaron su ritual nocturno para conseguir una banca en la iglesia—una mejora ante el aire libre y el piso de un baño.

“Es mucho mejor que dormir en el frío”, dice Hope, quien no quiso dar su apellido, de 56 años de edad. Las hermanas fueron de las primeras seis personas en obtener la admisión al refugio de la iglesia cuando se abrió el primero de diciembre.

En pocos días, el Centro de Acceso de Invierno estaba completamente lleno y algunas personas han sido rechazadas, dijo Rebecca Prine, directora voluntaria de Recycled Resources for the Homeless una organización sin fines de lucro de beneficencia pública en el noreste de Los Ángeles.

“Todo ha ido muy bien y nuestra pequeña comunidad está prosperando”, Prine le dijo a EGP. “Confiamos en la generosidad de otros en la comunidad”.

En septiembre, el alcalde Garcetti y los miembros del consejo de la ciudad declararon “estado de emergencia en la falta de vivienda” y comprometieron $100 millones para proporcionar vivienda permanente y transitoria a los necesitados.

Han pasado meses y activistas a favor de los indigentes se han impacientado ante la lenta respuesta de la ciudad.

Las temperaturas están bajando y las tormentas de El Niño están en camino, dijo Prine, explicando que Recycled Resources tuvo que intervenir después de no ver ninguna acción por parte del Consejo de la Ciudad.

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El refugio de la iglesia en Highland Park abrió sus puertas el primero de diciembre. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Los consejos vecinales locales, negocios y voluntarios colaboraron para encontrar un lugar para sus vecinos indigentes. El  reverendo W. Clarke Prescott de la Iglesia All Saints Episcopal aceptó abrir la iglesia como un refugio temporal de invierno.

La iglesia cuenta con espacio para 30 personas por noche. Hay un pequeño espacio en el segundo piso para las personas con niños. Las mascotas también son bienvenidas.

Pero se necesita más ayuda, dijo Prine, criticando a las autoridades municipales por no actuar.

Representantes de la Agencia de Servicios para Desamparados de Los Ángeles (LAHSA) visitaron el refugio para evaluar su elegibilidad para fondos financieros.

En el conteo del 2015, LAHSA identificó más de 25.000 indigentes en la ciudad de Los Ángeles. En todo el Condado, la indigencia ha aumentado un 12% desde el conteo de 2013, de 39.461 a 44.359.

El lunes, la portavoz de LAHSA Kelli Pezzelle le dijo a EGP que la iglesia no cumple con los requisitos de las normas de seguridad de la agencia. Entre los problemas, las bancas son demasiado estrechas para ser utilizadas como camas y no hay extinguidores, dijo Pezzelle.

La agencia rechazó esta semana la solicitud de financiamiento para el Centro de Acceso del invierno, pero revirtió su decision el miércoles.

Según el portavoz del concejal Cedillo Fredy Ceja, su jefe envió una carta a LAHSA instando a la agencia a que reconsidere su decisión “dada la urgente necesidad de un refugio inmediato”.

La carta de Cedillo señaló que la iglesia “es el único refugio actualmente disponible para los indigentes del noreste de LA y el apoyo de LAHSA en este sitio ampliará el alcance de los servicios disponibles en la zona”.

Despues de la reversión de LAHSA, Cedillo dijo que “inmediatamente presentó una moción para poner el centro en la lista de refugios de invierno, asegurando protecciones bajo la crisis de refugios. Esto les permitirá obtener fondos de LAHSA y operar durante la temporada de invierno”, dijo el concejal en un comunicado de prensa.

El concejal José Huizar también intervino para apoyar el centro, obteniendo la aprobación del consejo que le permite transferir $20.000 en fondos discrecionales de su oficina para el refugio.

El miércoles el consejo de la ciudad también aprobó la moción que Cedillo introdujo el martes pidiendo al Departamento de Recreación y Parques que abra inmediatamente la Armería Bridewell en Highland Park—que se encuentra vacante—para servir como un refugio de invierno.

La petición de Cedillo se produce después de la aprobación del consejo de la moción del concejal José Huizar para asignar $12.5 millones de “ayuda inmediata para los indigentes, rápido realojamiento y refugios de invierno” en toda la ciudad.

El financiamiento incluye $10 millones para subsidios de “Realojamiento Rápido” para casi 1.000 indigentes para ayudarles con el alquiler o los costos de la mudanza. Los fondos restantes incrementarán camas en albergues en este invierno en más de un 50%—a un total de 1.300. Estas camas se destinarán a los que viven a orillas del río de Los Ángeles en Tujunga y Arroyo Seco.

“Mientras que parte de este dinero ayuda a preparar la infraestructura a largo plazo para hacer frente a la falta de vivienda, la mayor parte del dinero es para acciones inmediatas para ayudar a la gente a que no estén en las calles”, dijo Huizar.

El refugio se ha mantenido abierto con el apoyo de la comunidad. Los Consejos Vecinales de Highland Park y Eagle Rock han aprobado fondos para el centro: $1.000 y $4.000, respectivamente.

Aunque todo el mundo en el noreste de Los Ángeles está hablando de la falta de vivienda, nadie está haciendo nada al respecto, explicó el presidente del Consejo Vecinal de Eagle Rock, David Greene.

“Las Juntas Vecinales pueden y se deben ir a la vanguardia en temas que son demasiado políticos o demasiado locales para que el ayuntamiento y el alcalde los enfrenten de una manera oportuna”, le dijo a EGP. “Entonces, mientras que la ciudad de Los Ángeles busca cómo encontrar y gastar los millones de dólares en su ‘guerra contra la falta de vivienda’, el ERNC vio una manera de hacer algo acerca de la situación inmediatamente en el noreste de LA”.

Las personas donan comida caliente, ropa, libros y alimentos para mascotas; voluntarios manejan el refugio que esta abierto de 7pm a 8am.

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Nereida Vazquez (der.) junto a su mamá y a su hija en la apertura del refugio en la iglesia de Highland Park. Vazquez se enorgullece que su hija sea voluntaria en algunas ocasiones. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Para los afortunados en conseguir un sitio para pasar la noche en la iglesia, este se convierte en un refugio seguro y cálido del frío invierno.

Cada noche, la voluntaria Nereida Vázquez da la bienvenida a los residentes del refugio y a veces pasa la noche como auxiliar. Como ex drogadicta y víctima de violencia doméstica, Vásquez dice que sabe de primera mano el valor de tener un lugar para dormir, ya que ella fue indigente y el departamento de servicios a  familias le quito a sus hijos para dárselos a su madre.

Se siente muy bien estar ahora en un lugar donde se ayuda a los necesitados, le dijo a EGP.

Recycled Resources espera vincular a los participantes a los servicios de apoyo que necesitan para mejorar su situación antes de que el refugio temporal cierre en marzo.

Mónica Alcaraz, voluntaria con Recycled Resources y presidente de la junta vecinal de Highland Park, le dijo a EGP que evalúan la situación de cada visitante al refugio y le recomiendan la asistencia adecuada.

“Los casos son diferentes, algunos de ellos quieren solicitar una vivienda, otros necesitan documentación básica como una [identificación] o la tarjeta del seguro social”, dijo.

“Estoy orgullosa del trabajo que hemos sido capaces de hacer como comunidad y para nuestra comunidad”, dijo Prine.

Según Hope, Recycled Resources la ha ayudado a ella y a sus hermanas a solicitar para la vivienda de Sección 8 y esperan ser aceptadas antes del cierre del refugio.

“No somos malas personas, simplemente vivimos en las calles y necesitamos ayuda”, dijo con sentimiento de tristeza.

“Pero sé que pronto voy a salir de esta situación”.

Para saber más acerca del refugio y como ayudar visite www.recycledresources.org.

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Winter Shelter Opens in NELA

December 17, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

When three homeless sisters heard a church in Highland Park would soon open a nighttime shelter, they quickly went to check it out. After all, their only other option was to keep sleeping on the floor of a public restroom at Sycamore Grove Park, where they’ve bedded down for the last few months.

The pews at All Saints Episcopal Church welcomed them with a sleeping bag, a pillow and some toiletries. Warm meals are offered in the small kitchen while movies are projected onto a screen.

Lea este artículo en Español: Refugio de Invierno Abre sus Puertas en Highland Park

More than two weeks have passed since the sisters started their nightly ritual of lining up to secure a pew – a welcome respite from the outdoor elements and the restroom floor.
“It’s way better than sleeping in the cold,” says fifty-six-year old Hope, who did not want to give her last name. The sisters were among the first six people to gain admission to the church shelter when it opened Dec. 1.
Within days, the Winter Access Center shelter was at full capacity and people had to be turned away, said Rebecca Prine, volunteer director of nonprofit Recycled Resources for the Homeless, a public charity in Northeast L.A.
“Everything has been going very well and our little community is thriving,” Prine told EGP. “We have been relying on the generosity of others in the community.”
In September, Mayor Garcetti and members of the city council declared “a state of emergency on homelessness” and committed $100 million to provide permanent and transitional housing to those in need.
Months have passed and homeless activists have grown impatient with the city’s slow response.

A pillow, a sleeping bag and toiletries were placed on every pew of the church. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

A pillow, a sleeping bag and toiletries were placed on every pew of the church. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Temperatures are falling and El Niño storms are on their way, said Prine, explaining Recycled Resources had to step in after seeing no action from the L.A. City Council.
Local neighborhood councils, businesses and volunteers collaborated to find a place for their homeless neighbors. Rev. W. Clarke Prescott of All Saints Episcopal Church agreed to open the church as a temporary winter shelter.
The church has space for 30 guests per night. There’s a small space on the second floor for people with children; pets are also welcome.
But more help is needed, said Prine, criticizing city officials for not stepping up.
Representatives from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency (LAHSA) visited the shelter to evaluate it’s eligibility for funding.
The homeless service agency’s 2015 Homeless Count identified more than 25,000 homeless in the city of Los Angeles. Countywide, homelessness has risen 12 percent since the 2013 count, from 39,461 to 44,359.
On Monday, LAHSA spokesperson Kelli Pezzelle told EGP the church does not meet the agency’s safety standards. Among the issues, pews are too narrow to be used as beds and there are no fire extinguishers, Pezzelle said. The agency rejected the funding request for the Winter Access Center, but reversed its decision Wednesday.
According to Councilman Cedillo’s spokesperson Fredy Ceja, his boss sent a letter Tuesday to LAHSA urging the agency to reconsider its determination “given the urgent need for immediate shelter.” Cedillo’s letter noted that All Saints “is the only shelter currently available to homeless individuals in NELA, and LAHSA’s support of this site will expand the scope of services available in the area.”

Following LAHSA’s reversal, Cedillo said he “immediately introduced a motion to place the site on the winter shelter list, securing protections under the shelter crisis. This will allow them to access LAHSA funds and operate through the winter season,” the councilman said in a news release.
Councilman Jose Huizar also jumped in to support the center, getting approval from the council to allow him to transfer $20,000 in his office’s discretionary funds to the shelter.
The city council Wednesday also approved a motion Cedillo introduced Tuesday asking the Dept. of Recreation and Parks to immediately open the Bridewell Armory in Highland Park as a winter shelter.
Cedillo’s request comes on the heels of the approval of Councilman Jose Huizar’s motion to allocate $12.5 million for “immediate assistance for homeless, rapid rehousing and winter shelters” citywide.
The funding includes $10 million for “rapid re-housing” subsidies for nearly 1,000 transients to help them with rent or move-in costs. The remaining funds will increase shelter beds this winter by more than 50 percent — to a total of 1,300. These beds will be targeted to those living in the Los Angeles River bed and the Tujunga and Arroyo Seco washes.
“While some of this money helps prepare long-term infrastructure to address homelessness, the bulk of the money is for immediate actions to help people get off of the streets,” Huizar said.
The center has remained open with support from the local community. The neighborhood councils of Highland Park and Eagle Rock have each approved funds for the center: $1,000 and $4,000 respectively.
While everyone in Northeast L.A. is talking about homelessness, no one is doing anything about it, explained Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council President David Greene.
“Neighborhood Councils can and should be leading the way on issues that are too political or too local for the City Council and Mayor to deal with in a timely way,” he told EGP. “So while the City of L.A. figures out how to find and spend the millions of dollars in its ‘war on homelessness,’ the ERNC saw a way to do something about the situation in NELA immediately.”
Individuals have donated cooked meals, clothes, books and pet food; volunteers are running the shelter, open from 7p.m. to 8a.m.
For those lucky enough to get a spot for the night, it’s a safe and warm haven from the bitter winter cold.
Every night, volunteer Nereida Vazquez greets shelter residents, sometimes staying overnight to see to their needs. A former drug addict and victim of domestic violence, Vasquez says she knows first hand the value of having a place to sleep, since she was once homeless and had her three children taken away by the department of family services.
It feels great to now be in a place to give back to those in need, she told EGP.

The shelter at All Saints Episcopal Church opened on Dec. 1st with six homeless arriving on the first night, now it’s at capacity with over 30 people every night. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The shelter at All Saints Episcopal Church opened on Dec. 1st with six homeless arriving on the first night, now it’s at capacity with over 30 people every night. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“We need to come together as a community because nobody really represents the homeless community,” she said. “It’s been a challenge, but also an honor to be part of the team.”
Vazquez’ mother and daughter visit her at the shelter and her daughter helps out. “I feel very proud to have my family here,” said Vazquez, adding volunteering is a valuable lesson for her daughter.
Recycled Resources hopes to link participants to the supportive services they need to improve their situations before the temporary facility shuts down in March.
Monica Alcaraz, a Recycled Resources volunteer and president of the Highland Park neighborhood council, told EGP they evaluate each shelter resident’s situation and recommend the appropriate assistance.
“The cases are different, some of them want to apply for housing, others need basic documentation like an [identification] or social security card,” she said.
“I am proud of the work we have been able to do as a community and for our community,” said Prine. “If we do not [get] city funds we will still succeed and shame on our elected officials.”
According to Hope, Recycled Resources has already helped the sisters apply for Section 8 housing, which they hope to get into before the shelter closes.
“We are not bad people, we just happened to be on the streets and we need help,” she said with a sense of sadness.
“But I know I’ll get out of this situation soon.”

For more information about the shelter visit www.recycledresources.org.

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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