Los Angeles, February 7, 2017 – Raymond Ramirez, a Los Angeles County resident who lost his home and suffered a debilitating illness that contributed to his continued use of substances, has found a new outlook on life. After living on the streets, Mr. Ramirez entered into a rehabilitation program, followed by transitional housing, where he was connected with the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA), and ultimately awarded a housing voucher. Mr. Ramirez, who moved into his home on January 10, 2017, says, “With a place to call my own, I can finally have my children and grandchildren visit me.”
Thousands of Los Angeles County residents have experienced similar hardships to maintaining housing, and HACoLA is at the forefront of the County’s fight to end homelessness. As a result of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Homeless Initiative, HACoLA has been charged with the task of coordinating strategies that address Federal housing subsidies, family reunification, streamlining regional coordination efforts, and how best to use public land for homeless housing. HACoLA is using its expertise in the local housing arena to implement groundbreaking programs which have already contributed to a decrease in the County’s homeless population.
For example, since July 1, 2016, HACoLA’s Public Housing Program implemented a new initiative as an additional means of addressing the area’s homeless crisis. As units at the South Scattered Sites Public Housing development (SSS) become available, they are now offered to a homeless family first.
No one is more grateful for this preference than Mr. and Mrs. Hairston and their seven children. Over 16 months, the Hairston family lived in shelters and out of their van, as Mrs. Hairston fought through her cancer struggle, before connecting with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the Weingart Family Solutions Center. Through HACoLA’s new initiative, on January 11, 2017, the Hairston family moved into a five-bedroom housing unit at SSS.
“Even though you come from homelessness, you can attain housing and look forward to the simple things in life like watching your children have a place to run…it makes my heart happy,” said Mrs. Hairston.
Since leasing up its first homeless family, Crystal Beacham and her two young sons in October 2016, HACoLA has maintained its efforts and housed an additional four families at SSS, and six more are currently under review to determine eligibility. Additionally, in just over a year, HACoLA has embarked on an innovative campaign to encourage landlord acceptance of subsidized tenants with a HACoLA voucher. The Homeless Initiative Program (HIP) and Landlord Veteran Incentive Program offer innovative incentives such as one month’s free rent, security deposit, and damage claims to landlords willing to reserve a unit for a homeless family or Veteran.
From program design, implementation, and administration, HACoLA has demonstrated its ability to analyze the problems related to homelessness and design an innovative approach specifically tailored to the needs of local landlords and the homeless population. Although, the plight to end homelessness is by no means over, the remarkable results thus far are proof that HACoLA’s progressiveness and ability to think outside of the box have made a significant impact on the road to end homelessness.
Landlords interested in partnering with HACoLA on its mission to end homelessness may visit Housing Authority website to learn more about the agency’s homeless initiatives.