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Service center opens to combat South L.A. homelessness

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti and other community dignitaries celebrated the March 13 grand opening of the Broadway Manchester Service Center, an office space for caseworkers serving the homeless and low-income populations in South Los Angeles.

The service center is a collaboration between the nonprofits St. Joseph Center and First to Serve, which provide services to homeless and low-income families, people with substance abuse problems and others.

LaCheryl Porter, vice president of contract management and new ventures for the St. Joseph Center, said that the service center will be used as “a centralized location for case managers that do a lot of work with clients to find housing in the South L.A. area.”

Caseworkers that work with South L.A. residents will now have a place in the area to work out of instead of having to commute from the Westside, Porter added.

The center will provide housing case management, mental health services, crisis housing, homeless outreach permanent supportive housing, housing stability, and many other services to the homeless community in South L.A.

“When someone moves into housing, they’ll need assistance on how to pay rent, how to do things to make sure that they maintain their housing,” Porter said.

Clients will be chosen through referrals from particular contracts, such as the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

According to Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, South L.A. has one of the highest concentrations of people experiencing homelessness, with about 5,700 people living on the streets.

“We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work like we’ve never gotten to work before,” county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “It’s that time for us to do what we haven’t done in the county of Los Angeles, and that is to make a bold statement and a big push to end homelessness in the county.”

The county’s goal is to bring 45,000 people out of homelessness and prevent 30,000 from falling into it over the next five years, Ridley-Thomas said.

Garcetti said that the voter approval of Measure HHH in November and Measure H in March shows the city is ready to do more than just confront and address homelessness, but to end it all together.

Pastor John Cager, board chair of First to Serve, speaks at the grand opening of the Broadway Manchester Service Center March 12. First to Serve is one of two nonprofits that are collaborating to operate the service center, which is designed to help get homeless people off the street. (Photo by Dorany Pineda)

Pastor John Cager, board chair of First to Serve, speaks at the grand opening of the Broadway Manchester Service Center March 12. First to Serve is one of two nonprofits that are collaborating to operate the service center, which is designed to help get homeless people off the street. (Photo by Dorany Pineda)

In November, voters approved Measure HHH, a city ballot measure that increased property taxes to pay for $1.2 billion in bonds to build 10,000 housing units for the homeless. Measure H, which passed with the necessary two-thirds majority on March 7, was a county ballot measure that increased the sales tax by a quarter-cent to help fund homeless programs and services.

The measures are part of a two-step fundraising designed by the city and county to provide support services and shelter to those living on the streets.

“The 110 is a freeway, not a shelter,” Garcetti said. “Our rivers are to get our waters out to the ocean, not to provide so-called homes. The unhoused among us are us: they are our brothers and our sisters; they are the veterans who fought for this country; they are the youth we shower with resources until they turn 18 or 21 and feel lost in this world. They are those people who will be the measure of our success or our failure.”

It is a center that will enable workers to try and solve homelessness, a problem that Garcetti called “the most pressing moral challenge of our time.”

Among the other speakers at the grand opening were Pastor John Cager, Rev. Richard Reed, Dr. VaLecia Adams Kellum and others.

Following the speeches, guests were provided lunch and given a tour of what used to be a post office and is now the newly renovated facility at 8525 S. Broadway.

 

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