Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Steps Up in the Fight Against Homelessness

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

When Shelter Partnership started distributing resources to community-based organizations in 1989, it was hard to imagine the program would grow to become what it is today. The growth and success of the program is due in large part to the strength of our partnerships and generosity of our donors. This generosity is exemplified by the S. Mark Taper Foundation’s recent gift of $150,000. The funds will support our resource distribution program operated through our S. Mark Taper Foundation Shelter Resource Bank. The program is one of the largest resource distribution programs in the country and is utilized by hundreds of Los Angeles County nonprofits every year. (more…)

A Lesson from the LA Homeless Count

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

A July 5 Los Angeles Times article, “Progress on homeless is hard to tally,” presents a difference of opinion on how to count the homeless.  All cities in the United States count homeless in shelters and on the streets.  Unlike most other cities, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) also conducts a telephone survey to tally “hidden homeless” and adds them to its count.  Federal officials would prefer LAHSA not include the hidden homeless, which would generate a lower homeless count total.

This debate over how to count does not address a much more important question: what can we learn from LA County homeless counts about how to decrease homelessness?

There was little change in street and shelter homelessness in LA County between the two counts in January 2011 and January 2013 – 39,414 compared to 39,463, an infinitesimal increase.  Why didn’t we see a significant increase in homelessness considering the Great Recession’s contribution to the drivers of homelessness: poverty and unemployment?  The reasons are multifaceted, but this is due primarily to a large infusion of federal Recovery Act funding from 2009-2012 that was well-focused on rapidly rehousing thousands of homeless individuals and families.   Second, Congress increased funding to house homeless veterans.  Finally, hundreds of permanent, supportive housing units at affordable rents were developed for people experiencing long-term homelessness and with disabilities–people who we most often see on the street and identify as homeless.

Unfortunately, many of the funding resources that made the reduction between 2011 and 2013 possible are no longer available.  LA County’s Street and Shelter data are consistent with national findings that rapid rehousing and permanent, supportive housing work to end homelessness.  Now we need a long-term commitment with adequate funding, political leadership, and smart implementation to make more progress.  Rather than debating homeless count methodologies, federal and local governments should devote the resources we need to these proven strategies and end homelessness in Los Angeles.

Implementation of Best Practices Improves Results in the County General Relief Program

Monday, November 18th, 2013

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

I have had the honor to participate on the LA County General Relief Restructuring Committee for several years and at our last meeting we received very positive feedback on one of the major initiatives—the mental health evaluation.  (more…)

HUD 811 Program: Redesigned for Health & Housing Collaborations

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

National health care reform portends many positive changes for the integration of health care and affordable housing for homeless and very low-income individuals.  In one noteworthy action, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revamp their HUD Section 811 housing program for the disabled.

Previously, the HUD Section 811 Program provided housing developers with capital and operating funding (project-based rental assistance) to build new permanent housing in relatively small-sized projects, usually 16 units or fewer, for very low-income individuals with disabilities.


$10 Million for Homeless Families

Friday, September 20th, 2013

by Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

Recently, Shelter Partnership worked closely with the senior staff from the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, this year’s Chairperson of the First 5 Commission, to secure a victory on behalf of homeless families.

On September 12th, the First 5 Commission unanimously approved a resolution by the Supervisor authorizing $10 million in funding for a second round of funding for temporary rental subsidies for homeless families and those at imminent risk of homelessness.  (The first round in late 2012 round was for $7.6 million.)

The major difference between the new round and the first round of funding is that families do not have to show a current or previous involvement in the County’s child welfare system to qualify for the rental assistance.

The current First 5 Rental Assistance Program for Homeless Families has been very successful and after only a couple months of operation had screened 245 families, well on the way to serving about 350 families in the year.  However, many needy families, with children 0-5, were turned away due to the lack of child welfare involvement.

The Los Angeles County Community Development Commission (CDC) will administer this program too and plans to issue a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) by the end of October.

Thoughts on the Just-Released 2013 Los Angeles Homeless Count

Friday, June 28th, 2013

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

There is some controversy in the 2013 release of the Los Angeles County Homeless Count as to whether or not to include a projection for the “hidden homeless.”  If the projection is included, the Count shows an increase of 16% from two years ago; without it, the increase in homelessness is less than 2%.

Los Angeles is one of only a handful of jurisdictions to do a telephone survey to try and identify people who are homeless living on private property.  The methodology uses a “rare occurrence” projection to extrapolate.  The methodology was first used in 2005 when only one-quarter of the nearly 2,000 Census tracks were actually surveyed by volunteers.  Today, almost three-quarters of all Census tracks are surveyed, leading to a much more robust count.

We believe that anyone who is homeless is a tragedy, but for true planning and comparison purposes, the number of people identified as homeless in the Homeless Count should be the 40,149 people observed and not the “hidden homeless.”


On the Road to Solving Veteran’s Homelessness

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

In 2009, when President Obama and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Erick K. Shinseki proclaimed that we as a nation would end Veteran’s homelessness by 2015, my reaction was one of skepticism.  In the 30 years that I have worked to solve homelessness, I had never seen a sustained, appropriately targeted, and adequate federal funding commitment to end homelessness.

But now I have become a believer.  According to the most recent national estimates, on any given night, 62,619 men and women veterans were homeless in 2012, compared to the 75,609 in 2009—a 17% decrease in three years.   What is astounding is that this drop in homelessness occurs at a time when we would expect to see an increase in homelessness given the growing number of veterans returning home, and the many challenges they face in securing employment in our tight employment market.

The reason for this turn-around has been two-fold:  the utilization of evidence-based approaches such as Homeless Prevention, Rapid Rehousing, and Housing First; and a new and ongoing sustained infusion of federal funding necessary to bring them to scale.


What We Know About Homelessness

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

Homelessness is largely the result of extreme poverty, and we know that some households are more vulnerable to becoming homeless than others because of life factors.  For instance, people with serious mental illness have a greater propensity for becoming homeless.  As do young adults in their late teens and early 20’s who have grown up in the foster care system.  Poor families with a young single woman head-of-household with young children are also at higher risk.  Another group that has a higher likelihood of becoming homeless are the men and women who have served in

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our military forces.  It is also a fact that persons of color are at greater risk of homelessness than others—especially African Americans and Hispanics.

In January 2013, thousands of individuals throughout Los Angeles County volunteered to undertake a count of people who are homeless on the streets and

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in the shelters.  Only a handful of cities have released their count numbers, and the results are mixed.

In Glendale and Santa Monica the number of homeless households has increased, while the number of homeless households in Pasadena has gone down.  Because of their significant homeless populations, the Long Beach and the City of Los Angeles homeless counts will give us a better sense of whether we are making the significant progress needed to solve homelessness in Los Angeles County.

We’ll have to wait a couple of months for the countywide results to be available.  But what we do know is that communities throughout Los Angeles County are working together to try and solve homelessness with varying degrees of success.

We also know a great deal more about how to resolve people’s homelessness.  The three critical elements is robust Homeless Prevention programs, Rapid Re-Housing Programs, and what is referred to as “Housing First”—providing housing with supportive services to people with severe mental health issues first, before requiring adherence to mental health treatment.

In my next blog, I will present a perspective on how well our nation is working to resolve homelessness among our men and women who served our country—our nation’s veterans.

Despite National Study Findings, LA County Has Highest Incidences of Chronic Homelessness and Veterans Homelessness

Monday, December 17th, 2012

By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

The 12/10/12 LA Times article “Number of chronically homeless, including veterans drops in U.S.” on national efforts to end homelessness reported that over the last five years, there has been a 17% drop for veterans and 19% for long-term homeless people with disabilities buy cheap cialis online referred to as “chronically homeless.”  Clearly, we as a nation are doing a lot of things right with a focus on developing permanent, supportive housing for people who suffer chronic homelessness and funding rental vouchers and crisis support for homeless veterans.

However, in the fine print we learn that

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Los Angeles County has the largest number of chronically homeless individuals and veterans—each accounting for 10% of the nation’s figures.  A major reason is that we

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receive a far smaller proportion of the federal resources for homelessness than do other cities because of an antiquated formula that does not relate to the incidence of homelessness. On

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a per capita basis, Columbus, Ohio receives 3 times and Pittsburgh, PA, 5 times our funding.

The report, “The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness,” was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and can be found at

Shelter Partnership Successfully Advocates for $25 million in Funding for Homeless Families

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Written by Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director

First 5 was established in 1998 after California voters approved Prop 10, an effort to fund health,

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safety and early education programs for children prenatal to age 5 through cialis online revenue from tax on tobacco products.

An audit of Los Angeles County’s First 5 Commission, released in late 2011, disclosed that $800 million in funding from the State’s tobacco taxes had not been allocated for low-income young children and their families.  Seizing the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the growing number of homeless families and those at-risk of homelessness in Los Angeles County, our Executive Director, Ruth Schwartz, organized several family service providers to provide public testimony to the First 5 Commission. (more…)