So many thanks to our standing-room-only crowd who came out to Everyone In: Stories from the Frontline in North Hollywood. These events give people a chance to share their powerful stories so we can all better understand the pressures that tens of thousands across L.A. County are facing—and what we can do to help.
For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here are some highlights, starting with Zondre Johnson.
She told us, “I was tired of being afraid. I was tired of being ashamed. And I was definitely tired of people telling me I was a failure.” After training to be a CSH Speak Up advocate and lobbying Senators on Capitol Hill, Zondre said she doesn’t feel like a failure anymore.
Jamie Hawks has overcome so much—addiction, incarceration, and her own son’s struggles with mental illness and homelessness. Today she works in stabilization, helping the most vulnerable thrive.
“Every day you’re given a blank page,” she tells her clients. “Let’s make it epic. Because no one’s story should end in homelessness.”
We heard from a number of advocates who help L.A. County residents secure affordable housing and the services they need to survive. Carl Holmes experienced homelessness after serving in the Army. Now he helps others locate housing and personally found homes for 80 people last year.
Like Carl, Freddy Cupen-Ames is a housing navigator. He told us about how he’s determined to make a difference in his community: “If it’s not gonna be me, then who?” The more people ask that question, the sooner we will end homelessness.
I’m very proud of the fact that Everyone In has organizers working in every corner of L.A. County to build alliances and fight for solutions. Caleb Crowder from our organizing team did a great job speaking about why we do this work: “I’m here today to remind you of who we’re fighting for. It’s us. Because we’re a community and an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” Well said.
You may recognize Emily Martinuik from the launch of our campaign a year ago. Her story is so powerful, because it exposes the myth that homelessness is something that happens to “certain” people. Emily had a good job, a family, a big house with a pool, and a savings account. When her youngest son was killed in an accident and the 2008 financial crisis struck, she did the best she could, but it wasn’t enough.
“You may be thinking this will never happen to me,” she said. “That’s what I thought, but it happened to me and it happens to thousands of people every day.” The question Emily asks is this: “If homelessness happened to you, what would you want it to look like?”
Our housing and homelessness crisis is raging in every community, which is why we need solutions in every community.
Thanks again to our powerful speakers for delivering this message, to our partners LA Family Housing, the Corporation for Supportive Housing’s Speak Up Program, St. Barnabas Senior Services and the Los Angeles Aging Advocacy Coalition, the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley Homeless Coalition and, above all, to the John and Marilyn Wells Family Foundation for creating Stories from the Frontline in the first place.