While we applaud the recovery of the local economy following one of the worst financial crises for both the state and nation, thousands of homeless and at-risk families in Los Angeles County are still struggling to find solid ground. The State’s Housing Support Program is a valuable tool in leading these families on a path out of homelessness and into self-sufficiency.
For homeless parents, 84% of whom are single mothers, a lack of housing is both a consequence of and contributor to employment loss, depression, and physical health problems. The difficulties of job seeking as a homeless person can be an insurmountable barrier to employment. And, for children the consequences of homelessness can be devastating to their overall health and well-being. Research shows that homelessness contributes to impairments in cognitive development and interferes with learning and social relationships of children; the younger the child, the more devastating the consequences.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and key community partners, such as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, are working to improve the prospects for these children and families and end homelessness in our communities. Recently, our ongoing efforts to end homelessness received a major boost with the creation of the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Housing Support Program. This program, created by the State Legislature, provided our county $3.5 million to expand housing services for homeless families.
As the Governor and Legislature consider their budget priorities, we urge them to increase the current level of funding in the Housing Support Program so that we can continue to provide much-needed housing and services for families in poverty. We need to address our homelessness epidemic with the same creativity and investment that the State demonstrated in turning around our overall economy.
We must simply do more to strengthen the safety net for our most vulnerable children and families. It starts with a safe and stable place to sleep each night.
Sheryl Spiller is the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, the second largest local social services agency in the nation. The department currently serves over 3.2 million residents and manages a budget of over $3.9 billion to provide benefits and services for families and individuals in Los Angeles County.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.