Mar 07, 2011

Jake Maguire's picture Posted By Jake Maguire

Skid Row Success Story in Los Angeles

We've got good news- there's one less person sleeping on the streets in Los Angeles!

Earlier this year, the Campaign hired two Americorps volunteers to hit the pavement in Skid Row. Recently, they helped Sharon Crosby move off the streets and into permanent housing after a lifetime of homelessness.

NeNe, as Crosby is affectionately called, had spent most of her life bouncing around between various temporary accommodations. She had spent the last ten years living on the streets.

“In 49 years, she’s never lived in a place of her own,” said Americorps volunteer Richard Meyers. “Most recently, she was living in a church parking lot.”

That changed when Meyers and his colleague, Renaldo Wiggins, approached NeNe about moving into an available unit through the Skid Row Housing Trust.

The Trust is among the largest providers of supportive housing in Southern California. Its award-winning buildings provide affordable homes coupled with the services needed to permanently break the cycle of homelessness. It is also an original Campaign partner and a major player in the fight to end homelessness in Los Angeles.

As it turns out, NeNe already had a brother and a sister living in Skid Row Housing Trust units. The parking lot she routinely slept in even faced one of the Trust’s buildings.

When asked why she had never filled out a housing application with the Trust, NeNe said she assumed she was ineligible.

Thankfully, that wasn’t true.NeNe with Richard and Renaldo, 100,000 Homes Campaign staffers who helped her move into housing

On February 10th, NeNe moved into her own permanent apartment, not far from the place she used to sleep. Thanks to grant money from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Trust continues to provide her with ongoing supportive services as she begins her new journey out of homelessness.

NeNe’s story is only one piece of the larger picture of ending homelessness in Los Angeles. After the strong success of Project 50, a program championed by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that worked to house the 50 most vulnerable homeless people living on Skid Row, the region has seen a renewed commitment to bringing its chronic homeless population inside.

In November, a business task force created by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Chamber of Commerce successfully launched Home For Good, a bold plan to end chronic and veterans’ homelessness countywide. That plan has already received the formal support of Supervisor Yaroslavsky, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and over 65 leaders and public officials.

“We’re so moved by the work of 100,000 Homes and stories like Nene’s," said Christine Marge of the United Way. "Again and again, we're seeing that it’s possible – we can do this.  That’s what Home For Good is all about – bringing the community together around the simple but powerful goal of moving our most vulnerable residents from the streets into permanent housing.”

In collaboration with Home For Good, the Weingart Center sponsored Richard and Renaldo as Americorps volunteers and made them available to the Campaign. The Campaign has funded their work through an innovative partnership with the Fannie Mae Foundation and the United Way of Greater LA. As NeNe’s story attests, that partnership is already paying dividends.

As the Campaign continues to launch partnerships with the Travel Channel, Kno Clothing, the Oak Foundation, Bank of America, and many others, national momentum to end homelessness continues to grow.

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