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In Downtown Los Angeles, there is an area that is riddled with drug abuse, homelessness and mental illness. This place is called Skid Row. In Skid Row, there are roughly 3, 500 homeless individuals. Many of whom suffer from mental illness. I focused on Skid Row because I am interested to discover how certain mental illnesses and health problems can lead to homelessness and what I can do to show the stories that these people have gone through.
Within Downtown Women Center, there is an outreach facility in the heart of Skid Rows that provided more than 73 homes this year to women that were facing homelessness. This facility helps people with mental illness that has be disenfranchised by mental health services. DWC is equipped with case management for people who find home to ensure that they are safe. I think this is pivotal area to help counter homelessness and the ones struggling with mental illness. According to LA Times, “L.A’s chronically homeless population has grown 55% since 2013. More than one-third of the nation’s chronically homeless live in California”.
In Skid Row’s DWC organization, I want to advocate as a negotiator for DWC’s Housing for Health. Through the Housing for Health, I will be advocating in implementing innovated site housing for women who need rapid access to quality, permanent housing. Some of these women have been victims of housing crash of 2008, domestic violence, and history of drug abuse, mental illness, trauma, and physical disability. I will help promote Section 8 housing or another, corporate funded supportive program, Brilliant Corners to Landlords via telephone or in person. Through this action, I will be the middle person, reaching out throughout LA County to provide supporting housing for women that are in need. The women of DWC will be the beneficiaries of my advocacy work of Housing for Health.
In a 2008 survey performed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “25 cities were asked for three largest causes of homelessness in their communities. Mental illness was the third largest cause of homelessness for single adults (mentioned by 48 percent of cities”. This quote expresses the vulnerability of this population to homelessness and how cities know that it is a prevalent issue. Mental illness, especially schizophrenia, makes it difficult to cope with environmental stressors, which cause many of these individuals to suffer immensely.
In addition to mental illness, the underlying influences of trauma are dealt with women at DWC. They have often dealt with sexual assault, loss of a loved one, witnessed abuse or experienced it first hand. It can be a catalyst for mental illness or go along with it. Literature on the process of women and trauma is nothing new (Goodman 1999). Trauma is usually correlated to mental illness later on in life. Most of the women that are members of DWC exhibit some form of trauma in their lives.
My project sponsor is Angela Tuckerman. She is MSW at the Downtown Women’s Center at 325 Los Angeles St in Los Angeles, CA. She will be supervising me with familiarizing me with Section 8 Housing Project program, Brilliant Corners and learning how to approach landlords in person. In addition, she is familiarizing me with Housing Authority regulations for landlord’s rights and responsibilities of property owners and why it would beneficial for them to take Section 8 Housing.
Since she works as a case manager under Housing for Health, her assistance is a major in my success of advocacy within the program since my knowledge of the women and the landlords will require addition program information and supervision. She has done my advocacy work herself by calling the landlords and reaching out to property owners. Angela has knowledge about the federal laws about housing under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
Resources needed to complete this project will be attributed from Brilliant Corner and Section 8 housing. These two are partnered with public health services of the city of Los Angles County Department of Health Services to fight to end homelessness. Our department receives vouchers to house these women to find homes. Some of the money come from corporate companies such Conrad N. Hilton Foundation that match the housing subsidy pool for these vouchers for Brilliant Corners for emergency cases such as domestic violence cases etc.
I believe my rate of success and measuring it is how many women I was able to house on my own. Since January 2016, the group of advocate were able to have a 77 women housed as of early November of 2016. I think of January 2017, if we can reach 100, we can make some sort of progress. I think by April, if we can reach 130 that would be excellent for my stay in California.
My learning objectives are mental illness and homelessness. The correlation between the two is very prominent in Los Angeles. The women at DWC suffer in one sort or another from either Trauma or Mental Illness. The women at DWC that are suffering from homelessness works with a case manager to find a home suffer immensely. I advocate in their behalf in order to find a home for them by talking to landlords. The facility that I work at help with supportive housing and helps me facilitate as a middle woman to create an opportunity for rapid community integration between the women, the landlord and myself.
As a whole, I provide the spark to build a relationship between a tenant-landlord liaison services and on a macro level, the facility will provide case management assess an integration program that will help them with care and supportive services for both landlord and tenant. For me, this team approach project helps me realize the futuristic approach to end homelessness. I believe that the comprehensive use of resources of both the US Department, Housing Authority of LA and corporate companies like the Hilton work together to end homelessness abide by the responsibilities which address the problem head on. In addition to that, I believe it takes it to micro level by providing an individual case manager for each client and a team to approach these ever growing task and individualized community.
I believe there is hope in ending homelessness and mental illness. There is hope. I believe Downtown Women’s Center has the right idea. I think that we stigmatize mental illness and homelessness as issue that should be kept hidden. However, we see it every day. It’s a public health problem. In California, it’s a huge issue. It’s a statewide issue that is out of hand. However, we are taking a progressive stance on how to deal with it. We are making a change. I’m happy to participate in a radical approach.
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