live / 2021
Flourishing in Housing, Thriving on the Street
The Center believes that the biggest barrier to housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles today is the isolation that comes from living on the streets. Utilizing a cutting edge engagement model that prioritizes building genuine relationships over transactional interactions, staff are able to garner the trust of service-resistant folks and connect them to mental health treatment, physical health care, and ultimately to sustainable housing interventions.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
On any given day, more than 125 individuals access The Center’s facility to attend groups, connect over cups of coffee, or to seek resources offered by The Center and by a dozen partner providers. While the agency hosts multiple publicly funded contracts, the privately funded Community Wellness programming is the heart of The Center, and is designed to be a resource for both the housed and unhoused community. Currently The Center’s Community Wellness programming is fully supported through private donations. The organization’s biggest challenge, which was exacerbated through the pandemic, is securing unrestricted operating support for these programs. In 2020, The Center lost $500,000 in private funding. Programs that focus on wellness for unhoused clients, such as the On-Site Clinic, mail service, and wellness groups, as well as programs that focus on housing retention for those already in housing, such as Flourishing in Housing, will be the focal point of LA2050 grant funding.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
In order to fulfill the agency’s mission of ending isolation and homelessness, The Center facilitates programming that assists individuals with decompressing, feeling safe, and overcoming social isolation. The goal of these groups is to re-engage individuals with years of trauma back into community life. The Center has found that when a person is immersed in safe, consistent community they are much more likely to seek case management, obtain housing, and maintain that housing. Regular programming runs the gamut from group meditation, to yoga (led by volunteer yogis from Wanderlust), art, poetry and music classes, read aloud short stories and current events, and gardening groups. On Friday’s, the agency invites only female-identifying folks to enter the facility, with the understanding that those with gendered-trauma thrive in the safety of closed community groups. In 2017, the Community Wellness Program staff launched Flourishing in Housing, which took the ethos of the Community Wellness Program and applied it specifically to people who obtained housing but who continued to seek support at The Center. With the Flourishing in Housing program, The Center utilizes an innovative model focused on housing retention. It does this by breaking isolation through engagement and encouragement, while providing job and volunteer readiness training and support. The goal of this group is to improve and maintain housing retention to ultimately break the cycle of homelessness for good.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Homelessness is arguably the leading crisis facing Los Angeles today. On any given night, there are 48,000 people living on the street and another 18,000 staying in congregate shelter facilities. Even more concerning is that these numbers are up by 13% from 2019 homeless count data. If this trend continues unbridled, by 2050 there will be upwards of 325,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. If The Center is awarded LA2050 grant funding, there will be less than 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles county by 2050. In the long-term, The Center aims to meet this goal by drastically (but sustainably!) scaling-up their unique programming model so that the housing success their clients benefit from can be experienced exponentially throughout Los Angeles. In the short-term, The Center plans to expand Wellness programming to help unhoused clients move towards housing, and to diversify Flourishing in Housing programming to keep housed clients housed.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
While there are thousands of agencies dedicated to homelessness in LA, The Center utilizes a radically different approach to solve the problem. Community Wellness programming gets results by focusing on relationships rather than transactional interactions. Daily groups provide the unhoused a safe place to re-engage with society. By reconnecting to the greater community, folks are able to pursue permanent housing. For recently housed clients, The Center offers Flourishing in Housing. This is a program unique to The Center, as there are no partner agencies supporting with housing retention in a similar capacity. Participants in this program don’t just retain their housing; they thrive in housing. They learn how to be active members of the community with a sense of purpose and belonging. In 2020, the program boasted a 90% retention rate, with over 70 participants and just one full-time staff member. With funding to continue to expand these programs, these numbers will only increase.
Which of the live metrics will you impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Healthcare access