The Los Angeles Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness blueprint, Home For Good, was launched just over a year ago. There is good news to share as well as a big opportunity to take this strategic initiative to end chronic and veteran homeless in Los Angeles County to the next level!
Home For Good is aimed at the 12,000 chronically homeless Angelenos, which includes approximately 1,400 homeless veterans, who have been homeless for more than a year and have serious mental or physical health problems. It is a plan that not only saves tax payer dollars, but has proven successful in cities all over the nation. As a result of the Task Force’s participation in the last two ACCESS Washington, D.C. trips, the feds have renewed faith in Los Angeles and our efforts to solve this terrible blight on our City and our people.
Federal agencies are now meeting regularly with local agencies, service providers and elected officials to implement procedural and systemic changes that will cut through red tape and reduce bureaucratic barriers. Due to our efforts to work with local veteran service providers to reduce the time veterans wait for housing from 168 days to 30, the Veterans Affairs has committed additional Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers to Los Angeles. We are also on track towards implementation of a single, unified homeless data collection system.
Home For Good’s fundamental mission is to build a network of permanent supportive
housing at locations throughout L.A. County. We have reached our goals in the first year, but we are only beginning. To meet the long term goals, the Task Force kicked off an initiative that will put L.A. on track to produce permanent supportive housing in record time: The Home For Good Funders Collaborative .
The Collaborative will align seed money from foundations, government agencies, and corporate sponsors and leverage this larger pool of funds with private capital. Currently those who build permanent supportive housing jump through multiple funding hoops. The collaborative has the potential to decrease the production process from 5 to 2 years — reducing the wait time and dramatically reducing the cost.
The Hilton Foundation seeded this fund with a $1 million challenge grant toward the $5 million needed and we are only a million dollars away from reaching our goal. Several other foundations, private individuals, and thousands of everyday citizens have contributed to this effort, but we need additional help. The collaborative is the ideal way for corporate and business participation to reduce the nation’s largest homeless population.
We believe that ending chronic and veteran homelessness isn’t just the right thing to do; it is in the best interest of the business community — from tourism to entertainment and restaurants to retail, business gets better when homelessness is efficiently addressed.
And that’s The Business Perspective.
Gary Toebben is president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.