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live / 2021

Pathways to Self-Sufficiency for the Unhoused Community of Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Food on Foot

Food on Foot provides the tools and resources needed for unhoused and low-income individuals to become self-sufficient through housing, employment, life skills trainings, and gain the confidence needed to make their accomplishments permanent. Food on Foot clients are determined to succeed and bring with them incredible drive and enthusiasm. With the support of Food on Foot, over 85% of the individuals served maintain housing and full-time employment for at least 12 months after graduation.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Food on Foot works to create the systemic change in the Los Angeles region by helping people transition from life on the streets to steady employment and permanent housing. Homelessness is considered to be the most significant problem facing the region. Food on Foot is addressing underlying issues such as a lack of confidence/lack of trust, dependency challenges, stigma that affects people experiencing homelessness in extremely competitive housing and employment markets. Since 1998, Food on Foot has supported clients through the difficult process of permanently leaving behind the streets to focus on cultivating skills and attributes necessary for long-term success in permanent housing and long-term employment. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, in 2020 the City of LA experienced a 16% increase in people experiencing homelessness while the County of Los Angeles experienced a 13% increase during the same time (compared with 2019).

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Food on Foot is helping individuals heal from the demoralizing and traumatizing experiences of living in streets and shelters. The program targets individuals experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles who are physically and mentally able to return to the workforce and enthusiastic to find permanent housing. Program participants work with licensed clinicians and other trained and experienced program professionals to achieve a progression of steps that starts with employment training opportunities, the receipt of food gift cards, and access to counseling. After demonstrating a strong work ethic and determination to succeed, participants begin preparing for full-time job opportunities and to secure permanent housing (market-rate studio apartments). Once gainfully employed, Food on Foot enables participants to move into their own apartment and subsidizes their rent and all basic expenses for up to twelve months while allowing participants to save their own funds. During this initial period, participants receive intensive support, case management, and financial subsidies to help them get back on their feet. After the first year in the program, participants have not only successfully shifted their own personal and professional trajectory, but have also begun mentoring other program participants that are just beginning to embark on their own journey off the streets.

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 one of the most pressing social issue in the Los Angeles region. By addressing the root of homelessness we lift up our neighbors and the community as a whole. In the past ten years alone, Food on Foot has served nearly 100,000 hot meals, including 11,500 meals in 2020 alone. The agency has added millions of dollars to the economy via productivity (wages earned) in that time period and saves taxpayers approximately $9.5 million a year, based on a recent report that calculated that emergency room visits, arrests/incarceration, and other publicly funded services cost $38,146 per year per homeless individual. Food on Foot sees that once a person is motivated to improve their life and receives the right support and resources, they will most likely maintain their housing and employment. As a trusted name in Los Angeles, Food on Foot continues to pioneer innovative solutions to help people help themselves back into permanent housing and long-term employment.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Since 1997, Food on Foot has demonstrated an over 85% success rate for transitioning formerly homeless individuals back into the stability of permanent housing and long-term employment. We track job and housing retention for the 12-month period following program graduation. After one year, graduated are generally able to maintain market rate rentals without the costly public-funded supportive services that higher-acuity homeless require. Food on Foot’s metrics serve as a robust indicator of a successful re-entry program into mainstream society for individuals who had previously been unable to access necessary services. FoF’s success rate is virtually unparalleled among systems intended to help the homeless regain their independence, in part because of the personalized services that our staff and volunteers provide to clients. FoF goes beyond case management and housing/employment placement to ensure that each individual has the unique resources that he/she needs for success.

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Food insecurity
  • Poverty rate
  • Homelessness

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT