As the height of the holiday season nears, the City/County Operation Healthy Streets collaboration brokered by City Councilmember Huizar and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas begins outreach with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers for third phase of social service cleanup effort
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 10, 2014) —After launching with much attention in August, a groundbreaking effort to tackle the issue of homelessness in Downtown’s Skid Row is quietly going about the business of offering social, housing and medical services to homeless individuals in Skid Row this week, leading up to targeted City street cleanings, which began Wednesday and continue through Dec. 17th.
One of the new dynamics to the City’s $3.7 million Operation Healthy Streets program is that since the last cleanup in October, a group of volunteers have become an integral part of the outreach effort, assisting county health and social service staff by helping guide, refer and accompany homeless individuals to a central hub or to specific services available in the area. This allows county professional staff to spend more quality time identifying and interacting with others in need of service. The volunteers receive specialized training leading up to the outreach.
Councilmember Huizar’s office is working directly with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to coordinate the effort.
“Since we launched our modified version of Operation Healthy Streets, we are making progress one person at a time in addressing homelessness and that is really the goal,” said Councilmember Huizar. “While we are working on creating capacity to continuously reach out and assist those who want to get off the streets, what we see in Skid Row is a true humanitarian disaster – daunting but one we cannot ignore. I want to thank all our volunteers who have participated in helping get their fellow community members assistance and off the streets. Their service reminds us how vital this work is and that we must continue to work together if we’re ever going to address homelessness in the City of Los Angeles.”
Operation Healthy Streets is a City initiated program launched a little over two years ago to address public health risks in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles. The program’s initial focus was on eliminating hazards that posed immediate health threats to those encamped on the sidewalks of Skid Row.
In an effort to go beyond street cleaning, Councilmember Huizar enlisted the assistance of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to have City entities join forces with the County to provide social, medical and mental health services to people living on streets targeted for cleanup by Operation Healthy Streets. City and County agencies involved in the effort include LAPD, County Department of Mental Health, L.A. City Attorney, County Department of Health Services, County Department of Public Health, Department of Public Social Services, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and the L.A. Department of Public Works. Volunteers of America is assisting by offering their facility as a central service hub during the outreach.
Since its launch in August, 75 individuals were placed in crisis housing, eight received emergency hotel vouchers, nine were placed in interim housing, six were referred to veteran housing services and 11 were approved for permanent housing.
The department of Health Services reported that 104 individuals received medical interventions that ranged of treatment for scabies, cellulitis, fungal infections, wound care, pain, medication refills, medical assessments and referrals to surrounding clinics for acute medical issues.
The Department of Mental Health was able to link 54 individuals to mental health services.
Behavior Health Services referred 55 individuals to detox and rehab and was able to successfully admit 15 individuals into a detox or rehabilitation facility.
In other services provided at that October OHS, The Department of Public Social Service provided assistance and information to 78 individuals about their existing social services cases while enrolling six additional individuals into Medi-Cal and CalFresh.
On top of social services provided, the Bureau of Sanitation reported nine tons of waste removed from Skid Row in two cleanups since August. Also picked up was 44 cubic yards of wastewater and 283 syringes and needles. Twenty-seven bags of personal items have been delivered to 90 day storage.
These figures will rise after the December Operation Healthy Streets cleanup is complete.
Those interested in joining Operation Healthy Streets as volunteers can sign-up here.
Recognizing housing is a critical element in addressing and preventing homelessness, Councilmember Huizar recently helped earmark nearly $3 million in community benefit funds allocated through Downtown’s Metropolis Project to low-income housing and homeless services, including:
- $2.5 million to the Los Angeles Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the creation of new affordable rental housing units for low- and very low-income households;
- $300,000 to the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit that provides permanent supportive housing in Downtown Los Angeles;
- $50,000 for Jill’s Place, a residence for homeless women at the Downtown Women’s Center;
- $50,000 to the Los Angeles Mission.