Over the past few weeks, we have been fortunate to join outreach workers across L.A. County to witness the work they do to end homelessness in their communities. All of their great work is made possible not only by volunteerism and small donations, but also by coordination with L.A. County through voter-funded measures.
We already have introduced you to Eric, an outreach supervisor in the San Fernando Valley who works in encampments with Saia and Sonia, two peer advocates he helped to house. You’ve met Renee, a housing navigator in Pomona who matches her clients with housing on the same streets where she once lived.
Now, we’re excited to share Jeannie’s and Amanda’s stories.
Jeannie is a Family and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at the Northeast Valley Health Corporation Transition to Wellness Clinic in North Hollywood. Many of Jeannie’s patients are referred by case managers at LA Family Housing, located next door.
Four days a week, Jeannie works in the clinic providing psychiatric care and mental health evaluations to patients of all ages. Wednesdays are spent at a local church that provides showers and meals to community members. Jeannie is on-site to address any mental and physical health needs, while partners from LA Family Housing provide clients access to housing resources and ID vouchers, as well as help them set up appointments for other medical services back at the clinic.
On Saturdays, Jeannie continues coordinating with LA Family Housing and meets with an outreach team for a full day out in the field. Accompanied by a mental health specialist and a peer advocate, she meets with clients that have been identified during the week as candidates for additional care. If nobody has asked for services, the team surveys encampments and other areas where our neighbors sleep outside to help provide essential medical services—like treating wounds and refilling prescriptions—and start building relationships.
“Everybody’s entitled to medical care and getting mental health therapy and housing. I love helping people and I love medicine,” says Jeannie.
“My purpose is to tell people it’s ok to need help and need support.”
Amanda Alvarado is an Outreach Coordinator for LA Family Housing.
After serving as a Substance Use Specialist for several years, Amanda now focuses on relationship-building, an essential element of service-providing. Because so many people experiencing homelessness have dealt with trauma and abuse, establishing a trusting, caring relationship critically informs the work between service providers and clients toward the ultimate goals of getting off the street, moving into housing, and building a sustainable, stable life.
Each day as an outreach coordinator is different for Amanda, as she travels between encampments, transports clients to appointments, trains new outreach workers, and helps place at-risk individuals and families into immediate housing.
The good news is that, thanks to Mayor Garcetti’s A Bridge Home initiative, five more bridge housing facilities will soon be available to Amanda’s clients.
Amanda explains the benefits:
“[Immediate housing] is a short-term place where people on the streets can go, they have access to case management, to showers, to three meals a day, to safety”, she said, “This is where they get connected to whatever resources they need because it does take time to find housing for people. This is a time in-between being on the street and having housing where they have some form of stability to get to where the goal is.”
Rapid rehousing, made possible by voter-approved funding, is another key part of Amanda’s work. While this program is implemented differently based on the needs of her clients, the general structure is this: rapid rehousing helps pay the first and last month’s rent and security deposit, as well as a diminishing percentage of the monthly rent in order to keep at-risk clients in their existing housing, or help them find housing more quickly.
Rapid rehousing helps prevent evictions from turning into chronic homelessness.
When asked about her favorite part of this work, Amanda unsurprisingly points to the relationships she’s able to build with her clients.
“The people on the streets are no different than any of us,” she says. “I tell them all the time that I’m no different than them and to just realize that everyone has a story. My clients are the most resilient, strong individuals in the world.”
Thanks to voter-approved funding, Jeannie and Amanda are two of now hundreds of outreach workers that provide the support, relationship-building, and direct services that help to house 133 people every single day in Los Angeles.
And while we have so much more work to do to end homelessness, real, significant progress is happening.
This blog is part of a series across our campaign where we highlight the people working to end homelessness.
Learn more by texting (213) 429-4830 or checking out our FAQ page here.