Last week, hundreds of West L.A. residents, organizers, and activists gathered at Coffee Connection in Mar Vista to hear stories from their neighbors.
Like most of our Stories From The Frontline events, chairs filled up quickly.
Many stood in the overflow section at the back of the small auditorium, leaning in to better listen as each speaker shared their experience of homelessness, housing insecurity, trauma, addiction, or abuse.
The room was dark, lively, and attentive.
There were tears and sighs when those on stage spoke about their hardships, and raucous applause when they talked about their triumphs.
Every speaker ended with a resolute statement: “I am your neighbor.”
So much of what makes these Stories events so powerful is hard to capture in a blog post.
They are not just intended to give our advocates who have lived on the streets a platform to educate, but also to provide a forum for communities to come together and organize for solutions to this homelessness and housing crisis.
Those solutions—as nearly every one of our speakers mentioned—are housing and services.
That was the case for Lydia Garcia, who found stability and housing once a case manager took the time to hear her story. That case manager told her, “You don’t deserve to sleep outside.”
Or Christopher Lewis, a CSH Speak Up! Advocate who told us how supportive housing helped him get treatment for a serious mental health condition which had been undiagnosed for decades.
Or Dede Olivas, who overcame homelessness, abuse, and addiction, and recalled the first time she walked into her permanent housing: “I fell to my knees and prayed to God. Thank you. Thank you.”
We are grateful to all of our speakers, whose courage, resilience, and stories are what drive our movement.
They represent the proof that housing and services do indeed end homelessness, and that regardless of your housing status, you are a person worthy of love, dignity, and success.
That you are somebody’s neighbor.
We hope to see you at our next Stories From The Frontline event in November.