Why Big Change Cares about Big Change for the Homeless

As part of our model, Big Change Advisors donates a percentage of our profits to make a Big Change for society. Businesses can designate a percentage of their fees to go directly to the Los Angeles Mission, one of the nation’s largest service providers to the homeless.

Through this model, businesses can invest in their own future and the future of at-risk people, families, and seniors throughout the Los Angeles community — creating a big social impact.

Why homelessness? Because it’s an epidemic.

As cited in the Los Angeles Times, the population of people who are chronically homeless in the city has grown 55%, to 12,536, since 2013. Nationally, according to the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, on any given night in January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless.

In addition, nearly one-quarter of all homeless people nationwide are children, under the age of 18.

It’s a problem so big President Obama has proposed spending $11 billion over the next 10 years to fight family homelessness.

And it’s a problem that could happen to almost anyone.

MarketWatch cites that “Americans are feeling better about their job security and the economy, but most are theoretically only one paycheck away from the street.”

The article reports approximately 62% of Americans have no emergency savings, which are critical for not only getting through emergencies, but also being able to make mortgage payments and hold on to their homes.

And it’s not just foreclosures that are putting people at risk. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, other causes of homelessness include:

  • Fewer work opportunities and lower wages. In many areas of the country there is often a deficit in quality work opportunities. With the value of minimum wage declining, those who do find work are often not paid enough to afford housing.
  • Lack of housing. For people with low incomes, it can be difficult if not impossible to find low-income housing. The Coalition reports there has been an increase of 41% from 2000 to 2009 in fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental unit.
  • Domestic violence. Oftentimes, poor women who are victims of domestic violence must choose between living with an abuser or living on the streets. According to the Coalition, 50% of cities surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness.
  • Mental illness: Many homeless people are simply not mentally prepared to afford and sustain long-term housing. According to reports, 20% to 25% of America’s homeless population suffers from some form of severe mental illness.

These reasons are among the most cited for causing the homeless epidemic. And they’re why, in Los Angeles, the work of the Los Angeles Mission is so important.

Homelessness is not a distant problem. It’s something that can happen to our friends, our families, our neighbors, and our children. Through Big Change Advisors, businesses can help solve this problem, and bring Big Change to their bottom lines, and to all society.

When College Students Can’t Come Home for Thanksgiving

November: It’s a time to give thanks, and for many, it’s a time to come home for Thanksgiving. For college students, it often marks their first trip back since the semester began. But for up to 58,000 students who identify as “homeless” on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid,” there is no home to come home to.

It’s something many people don’t think about. Homelessness is typically associated with older adults who have addiction or mental health issues, or who have fallen on hard economic times. While those circumstances are often the case, homelessness also can affect students, who are going to school to get an education and ultimately be able to earn a living.

Student homelessness can be the result of parents no longer being able to provide support, or a lack of affordable student housing. Some students have housing while the dorms are open, but have nowhere to go when school is not in session. For some students, family dynamics of violence, mental health issues, addiction, and conflict can make the possibility of going home impossible. Regardless of the reasons, the number of homeless college students is up 75% over the last three years, and that number – one source indicates – is likely an underestimate.

To address this issue on a local level, the Los Angeles Mission has begun to work with Southwest Community College in South Central L.A. and LA City College to address the housing and service needs of students during holiday breaks and year-round. As in much of L.A., there is little affordable housing surrounding these schools. Good jobs are needed in order to make rent or a mortgage. But good jobs require a good education, and thus these kids are in a Catch-22.

As one of the country’s leading non-profit organizations serving the homeless, the Los Angeles Mission extends its reach beyond Skid Row and delivers resources wherever they’re needed, even college campuses. To serve the students of Southwest Community College and LA City College, this means providing basic supplies and emergency assistance to the homeless outreach programs. The Mission is also developing a pilot program for housing students until permanent housing is found.

The Mission asserts that nothing helps reduce the chances of homelessness like education. And sleeping in tents or navigating shelters is not the answer.

Moreover, the Los Angeles Mission provides hope – an inspiration for students that as they’re going through a process that’s challenging even with homes and support systems, their hard work will ultimately pay off.

This outreach with the colleges shows that fighting homelessness demands more than a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes it means giving a mentally ill person shelter for the night. But sometimes, it means reaching a college kid who can’t come home for Thanksgiving by letting them know somebody cares.

Either way, just as in business, success calls for agile, responsive approaches: Anticipating needs and thinking outside of the box. Whether you’re addressing homelessness, or taking a company to the next level, it’s about exploring where the needs are, and creating opportunities to make a big change for people and for society.