Columnists Opinion

Multi-dimensional problem requires multiple solutions

The homelessness crisis affecting tens of thousands of our neighbors demands actions from all of us.

To solve this crisis and forge healthy communities, we need multi-dimensional solutions for a multi-faceted problem — solutions that address all aspects of well-being and are rooted in collaboration.

Housing affordability is a key part, but so is the absence of affordable medical care, as well as a lack of supportive housing that can provide integral services like medical guidance to people as they transition back to lives in homes. 

Though we approach homelessness from different angles, the Everyone In campaign of United Way of Greater LA and Allied Health Solutions believe together we can provide more holistic solutions rooted in the lived experience of folks experiencing homelessness.

No single effort, whether housing or community engagement, is enough. But it’s time that in Los Angeles, health organizations, advocacy and action movements, and all campaigns devoted to community health come together and begin collaborating. We hope to do our part in that and set an important example.

In South L.A., Allied Health Solutions offers health care services to seniors. Many are at risk of homelessness. Some are already living on the streets.

Over the past decade, we have mobilized to stop this trend, providing medical care and workshops to residents of two affordable housing sites, West Angeles Senior Housing and Crenshaw Villas. Our experience has shown that seniors face other challenges and that holistic solutions require on-site medical care and trainings on insurance programs like Medicare.

But the fact remains: LA lacks affordable housing solutions, and we need public support and action to build more. Fortunately, organizations like Everyone In are generating public will to ensure funding from Proposition HHH and Measure H is allocated to housing and supportive services. So far, more than 8,000 units of supportive housing are in the pipeline.

By galvanizing support to create housing that organizations like Allied Health Solutions frequently need, we see a future in the near term where ending homelessness is achievable 

One instance from our community epitomizes how collaboration can open new doors.

At one of the residences where we offer medical services, we discovered an older gentleman staying with a family member. Because he needed shelter, and had no consistent access to medical care, he carried his bag of medication.

For months, he had been denied housing due to shortages. We were able to approach him in time and connected him to resources that streamlined his medications, improved his well-being, and ultimately led to supportive housing. 

There are so many stories like his, and each leads us to confront a painful hypothetical:if we had more housing, could we not have helped this gentleman find a home long before he had to face living on the streets?

The answer is yes. With access to housing that offered supportive services, he would have received the medical attention he needed, well before becoming homeless.

As Everyone In and Allied Health Solutions begin this collaboration to ensure Angelenos have the housing and health care integral to well-being, we find unity in our ultimate mission: ending homelessness.

Part of that begins with awareness and learning from the community. Two such opportunities are the recent South L.A. groundbreaking on Nov. 13 on the supportive housing site Isla Intersections, as well as the overall progress we have made in constructing housing in the three years since the passage of Proposition HHH.

The groundbreaking will be followed by a supportive housing bus tour with Skid Row Housing Trust on Dec. 7, which will give Angelenos the chance to witness a future where homes are the reality for many of our currently unhoused neighbors. 

Solving homelessness is a shared goal that underpins the overall and holistic health of our city. As a community, we can begin to achieve it with outreach andactivism. If you have a story from the community, write a letter to your council member and tell them the difference services or housing makes.

Likewise, you can organize with outreach specialists to create affordable housing and services, or reach out to your local Everyone In organizer to see how you can support solutions. 

It’s time we jump into community-wide action to address this crisis. Our neighbors are counting on us. 

Adolfo Alzuphar is an organizer for the United Way of Greater LA’s Everyone In Campaign. Naudia Edwards is the chief operating officer of Allied Health Solutions Medical Group/Allied Health Solutions IPA and David London is a provider relations specialist with Allied Health Solutions IPA.