Written by Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director
First 5 was established in 1998 after California voters approved Prop 10, an effort to fund health, 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.
Ruth also reached out to the offices of two County Supervisors, Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas, and their respective appointees to the Commission. The Commissioners then introduced a motion to address the housing needs of these families and to first report to the Commission specifically on the needs of homeless families.
Shelter Partnership staff worked closely with the First 5 Commission staff to provide the latest data and analysis on the needs of homeless families. The report found that there are at least 3,000 homeless children up to age 5 in Los Angeles County and, because of changes in the social safety
> net, their numbers are growing. Homeless children are 12 times more likely than other children to go into the foster care system, are twice as likely to repeat a grade and have twice the rate of learning disabilities as children who are not homeless. The report also stated that one-third of all homeless children in the County come from the South Los Angeles community.
In accepting the report, the 2012 Chair of the First 5 Commission, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, made a motion to provide $25 million in funding to develop affordable housing and both medium-term and longer-term rental assistance to families with young children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Funding applications and announcements were made in record time, by the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission. The program will provide capital, operating, and services funding for five developments, totaling 232 new permanent housing units, including housing for transitional aged youth. Additionally, 350 families will be assisted throughout the County with rental assistance and other support services.
According to David Snow, Executive Director of Upward Bound House, whose agency was awarded $1,042,640 in funding for medium-term rental assistance and supportive services for Westside families: “This wonderful milestone would not have occurred without Ruth’s advocacy and leadership. We can always count on Ruth and Shelter Partnership to take the lead in identifying and pursuing new funding opportunities that make it possible for agencies like Upward Bound to address the critical housing needs of homeless families.”