Los Angeles Business Journal

Business Task Force Advances Services for Homeless

OP-ED By JERRY NEUMAN and RENEE WHITE FRASER Monday, January 30, 2012

After one year of implementation of the Los Angeles Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness blueprint, Home for Good, there is much good news. There is also a golden opportunity for the business community to make the news even better. 

The task force’s initiative to end chronic and veteran homelessness in our region in five years consists of two equally important components. First, Home for Good seeks systemic changes that will enable the large number of local, regional, state and federal agencies to not only work together but also in concert with public and non-profit social service providers.

Second, Home for Good relies on the targeted use of existing permanent supportive housing and an increase in the total number of those essential units available to homeless people.

The task force has made significant strides toward the first goal. The most welcome progress flows from sweeping support for Home for Good. Nearly the entire homeless services sector has joined countless elected officials and thousands of individuals to implement Home for Good. There is a powerful commitment to change the way we address homelessness.

That resolve has produced impressive results. At a meeting convened by the task force, representatives from local and regional agencies met with senior federal officials. Together, they hammered out a list of specific procedural and systemic changes that the local participants sought from the federal agencies. Within a few weeks, all of those changes were under way. That process replaced an often contentious and counterproductive atmosphere with one that is more cooperative and generates results. 

Similarly, a boot camp that the task force and Community Solutions convened for those who work with homeless veterans achieved a remarkable feat. Those in the room found ways to reduce the time veterans wait for housing from 168 days to 30. Other systemic efforts are also moving forward. For example, progress is being made in the implementation of a single, unified homeless data collection system. On the systems side, Home for Good is moving forward as planned. 

On the housing side, the housing stock needed to fulfill the year-one goal of the plan has been realized, and we are optimistic that the region can stay on track to meet the long-term objective of the plan. The year-one number isn’t as large as it will grow in the next four years, however, so the task force has created a dynamic entity to produce permanent supportive housing.

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