Happy Juneteenth, Fam!

Here are some thoughts about what today means to me and my people and the country and how far we still must go:

As a Black man in the United States of America, I am proud of our country today, because Juneteenth is now officially a federal holiday. Today is a day that commemorates that we effectively ended slavery in the U.S. As a Black man who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, I rejoice that “We the People” have begun to use this moment to move us closer to becoming “One Nation Under God.” Today, I would like to encourage all people, but especially believers, to celebrate the freedom of African Americans in this country.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation by freeing all those still enslaved. Granger rolled into Galveston with his troops two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia and over two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Though these slaves had been legally freed, it was on this day, June 19th, they finally tasted freedom for the first time.

The goal of Juneteenth is to cherish, educate and assist the public in acknowledging and learning about the terrible things my people went through. As a Black pastor, I believe it is also my duty to educate my fellow believers about the misinterpretation of Scripture as it relates to slavery. Americans have long struggled with and even fought over slavery. Those who claim the name of Christ have not been immune to this struggle and it didn’t end on Juneteenth. Today, one of the most common criticisms against Christianity is that the Bible supports the institution of slavery.

This could not be further from the truth. It is important to know from beginning to end, Scripture clearly condemns the kind of slavery that took place in America. In Exodus 21:16, right after the giving of the 10 Commandments, the Lord condemns “man-stealing” – which is kidnapping someone and forcing them into your service. The punishment for “man-stealing” according to the law was death. In the New Testament, Paul condemns “enslavers” as being contrary to the Law of God and facing the condemnation of God (1 Tim 1:10). Much more could be said about this point, but it is obvious both Old and New Testaments denounce as wicked the practice that was the transatlantic slave trade and those who participated in it.

A major part of the importance in recognizing Juneteenth is that many parts of the reality and history of slavery are still not taught in schools in many states. Education, equality and representation and a myriad of basic equalities post-slavery have been fights that we still see and work towards to this very day.

Much like the stain of sin, and how it lingers in our life long after we have broken its hold over our lives, so too the stain of slavery has left lasting collateral consequences that have generational impacts. So, while we have come a long way today in our country, we still have a ways to go before we can reverse the effects of slavery.

To get a sense of how we still have far to go towards true equality and freedom, I think about the disproportionate homeless, poverty and incarceration rates African American people still suffer from in the U.S. after over a century since slavery ended.

Reversing the effects of systemic racism, poverty, and unacceptable treatment of Black people is something I know we are on a path toward today. I am hopeful, because of our donors and volunteers of every tongue and kindred that come through year after year to support our work at Los Angeles Mission.

We know that by confronting the reality of the effects of slavery with truth and love that we can make a difference. We are seeing that unfolding of the history of a tragic and dark past play out right now. We are witnessing the next steps and witnessing the beautiful path to a true freedom we never realized on Juneteenth. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

We are closer to knowing that truth than ever today, with much more to go, and that’s where I stand for our people on a day like today. Today is an important day for me. For what we all can overcome. For what all people who experience any discrimination know in their hearts about the fight they had to endure just to be treated somewhat equally.

I have witnessed the systemic inequities and poverty rates African Americans face daily. I have dedicated my life to helping people break the chains of bondage (addiction, homelessness, poverty, etc.) in their life. I’m extraordinarily proud of everyone across the country for how we spoke up this year, for the way we are working together more than ever to show the world what we can do, and our willingness to do it together. No matter what our race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic background is we are all committed to working to make this world a better place.

I manage organizations that provide supportive services and transitional case management to individuals experiencing homelessness and post-incarceration reentry. We provide these services to all people – but tragically the ones who need our services are disproportionally Black individuals. They have now been enslaved by a system of institutional racism and slavery that only the power of love can break.

Paul argues, in probably his first epistle, that if Christians who are slaves can get out of slavery, they should. Since Christians are now slaves of Christ, we should no longer be slaves to anyone, or anything, else (1 Corinthians 7:21-23). Therefore, early Christians were known to use part of their church offering to purchase the freedom of their fellow Christians. Jesus came to “set the captive free” (Luke 4:18), so Jesus’ people should also help liberate people in bondage and celebrate anytime someone is set free.

I’ll end with the same point I started with. Slavery wasn’t in the world in the first two chapters in the Bible (Genesis 1-2) and it’s not there in the last two chapters either (Revelation 21-22). Therefore, Christians should do all we can now to live considering God’s original design and Jesus’ coming Kingdom. The church is to be a preview of what is to come by opposing the institution of slavery and rejoicing in its abolition. Juneteenth is a foretaste of the day when every captive will be set free, so that’s worthy of firing up the grill and celebrating today.

Los Angeles Mission stands committed to supporting equality for all people. We will always be here for you if you need a hand to raise you up through any challenge and any time of need. You are loved. You are cherished. You are worthy of an equal place in society. We believe in you. Never forget this.

Happy Juneteenth, Fam.

Pastor Troy

Black History Month Questions for Troy

For Black History Month, we took the time to sit down and have a candid discussion with Pastor Troy on his reflections on Black identity, joy, and promoting resiliency in the community.

  1. Black Americans represent a disproportionate majority of those experiencing homelessness and those effected by the Covid-19 Crisis? What do you feel are the root causes of this? What direct actions can we take to address this disparity?
    • “The disparities are systemic to the issues of racism in our country – institutional racism, systematic racism that has contributed to the dismantling of healthcare systems, particularly in communities of color. What COVID-19 has done is just expose that disparity even further. We need to make sure that we are being very intentional about doing several things in our community around people of color. To breakthrough to our youth, we need to make sure that they have the interest and access to jobs and training in the medical field. We need to make sure that people who want to go to school to be a biologist, a doctor, or a dentist – that we are encouraging those interests within our communities of color. If we don’t start understanding that our progeny and our youth are the key to us reversing the yields of the past, we will never be able to solve it. In addition to that, we need to make sure that we are cultivating resources as it relates to the creation of community clinics, federally qualified health care centers, and health care systems. Those safety nets need to be put back in communities of color and built up in a way that ensures equitable access. The third thing we need to do is make sure that the people that are most impacted by the system are being brought into a position where they can now influence the system itself. Until we are able to do that, we’re not going to be able to solve the disparities we have in our country.”
  2. What do you feel have been the biggest resiliency factors for the Black community when confronting these historical and societal challenges?
    • “I think there is an awakening. The thing that makes Black people particularly resilient, is the fact that we’ve already overcome so much and, historically, it is embedded within us to survive. We need to make sure that we pass that type of legacy on to our children. Black people have been fighting for the right to be Black in America, since we were brought over here on a boat. Almost every immigrant that’s here in the United States of America came of their own volition except for Black people. We were brought here to do work and to build a nation that never has accepted us. Our resiliency is proven in the fact that we have caught up in many cases, but there is still more work to do. Other groups in this country have had a 250-year head start and Black people are still here, finding a way to thrive. We have to do a better job in terms of understanding who we are, to coalesce from a mantra, to a mission, and then to a method to really understand how we can begin to attack these disparities. We appreciate the Black Lives Matter movement, because it has brought an awakening. The movement has been successful because young people of all walks, all levels of diversity, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, and races coalesced together to stand up and say ‘that this is not right.’ The Black Lives Matter movement took off because other groups joined in. You can only bring about change when you have all people understanding that until everybody moves together, nobody is moving at all.”
  3. One criticism of public discourse of Black History in America is that it often glosses over the “truth”. Alice Walker says, “Healing begins where the wound was made,”. In your opinion, what does “truth-telling” look like and how can spiritual healing of these “wounds” begin?
    • “I think, the first step is to ‘be the truth that you seek.’ A lot of times, when we have been wounded for so long, it’s important to understand that we need to begin the healing within ourselves before we can have the healing outside. Many times, when we approach a situation from a place of harm instead of repair, we almost do more harm than good. I think we have to learn how to be the truth that we seek. When we do that and come to any situation with our authentic selves, we don’t have to hide from the past of who we were and what made us who we are today. We can stand in the integrity of that experience and be true to our own selves. We say in the word of God, ‘to thine own self be true,’ which is an invitation to really examine ourselves and see whether or not we are who we say we are, that we are in the faith that we believe. That is the important part of understanding what it means to ‘be the truth that you seek.’
  4. It has been said that “Black joy is an act of resistance,” how can we work to center joy in social justice work and everyday life? What joy do you center in your life?
    • “For me, joy is the cornerstone of who I am; it has nothing to do with happiness. I think joy is something that is internalized, it’s something that you have within yourself, and you have to connect it to your ‘why.’ For example, why do you get up every day and what brings you joy in your life. Happiness has to do with the external things that you put in your life? But joy is internal; it is something that’s rooted deep inside of you. The reason why joy is activated and the pursuit of it is able to counterbalance the negativity in the world, is because it can’t be destroyed. If there’s something that’s on the inside of you, it cannot be taken from you, because it belongs to you. Our Black Ancestors had joy even when they were enslaved, even when they were in chains. They had something on the inside of them that could not strip away their dignity. It is through the art of storytelling that they were able to pass on that legacy of resilience that is rooted in joy, their Creator, in their relationships, their sense of family, and staying connected to the root of who they are. It’s like a submarine that goes down into the deep waters – the deeper it goes the more pressure it takes onto its hull. The way the submarine can withstand that pressure is by equalizing the pressure within, that is what joy is like for the Black community. Joy is that thing that allows us to equalize the pressure so that we cannot be crushed from the things on the outside.”
  5. What does it mean for you to be the first African-American CEO / President of Los Angeles Mission? How does this experience shape your perspective and vision for the work you will contribute as a leader?
    • “For me, to be the first in anything means that you cannot fail, because you never want to be the last. When you are the first, you do not just represent yourself – you represent your family, the legacy you stand on, and you represent a group of people – so at every point and every turn you have to be excellent at what you do. That means you have to master your craft, understand more than the ordinary person understands, and most importantly, you need to be true to yourself. I am not going to be a ‘whitewashed’ person because, I am not. I am a Black man who is educated, who has lived experience of homelessness, and I want to bring my total self to the table – that was a prerequisite I had when I came in the door. As a leader, it was foundational that I would be allowed to be my total self. I think that anytime you get into any situation, you want to bring your full authentic and total self to the table. As a black man, the first in eighty-four years at the Los Angeles Mission, I want my total self to be on display, because that is how we really magnify the transformative power that comes from our Creator. I think that’s the most important thing that I can be – is my authentic self at this moment in time”
  6. Which Black Historical figures inspire you and your work the most? Why?
    • “The first Black historical figure that inspires me and my work is Jesus. He does not represent color in my mind; however, I see him through the eyes of color. Jesus represents who I want to be as a Black man in this world. After Jesus, my biggest hero is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr – I have him all over! I have studied his movement, I’ve studied his ability, his public persona of who he was as a leader, and as a man of God. As a preacher, I admire his ability to articulate the Word of God through the art of storytelling, and how he made it relevant to his day and his time. Dr. King is my hero because he understood that he needed multiple people and multiple types and levels of diversity to move the needle in his movement. That is the key – when you understand as a Black man, or any leader really, that you can’t get anything done without a level of diversity that in your work. Harriet Tubman is another hero in my life because she did her own thing and took a chance, in terms of being creative. She went against the status quo and became the type of person that I think we all aspire to be, which is to lead a people out of darkness into a possibility into hope. When I think about people that I would like to emulate in my life, whether they were well known heroes or not, those are the ones that I try to cling to, because they really speak to who I am as a leader.”

MLK Day 2021

Over 50 years ago today, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made an indelible mark on the history of the United States as a champion for social justice and civil rights. He was first and foremost a man led by his faith and was a proud 3rd-generation preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than ever, it is important to remember his legacy and the dream of unity and justice that he helped steward to the forefront of the American consciousness. We honor his actions by taking a mindful moment to think about the ways that we can echo and uplift his repeated calls to action to consider our interconnectedness to those around us. We take this day to consider an intentional approach to the moral imperative to stand up against every type of injustice that afflicts our society. We take today to not only honor this man’s life, but to give light to the many movements and revolutionary works that he ignited with his passion for justice and equity.

The foundations of Dr. King’s approach to social justice were based on a biblical framework that emphasizes loving those who are different than you in the spirit of being one community.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NKJV)

In the eyes of God, there is no difference between His creations for they are all made in His image and given the same promise of salvation and freedom. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” written on April 16th, 1963, Dr. King positions the roots of his activism as inspired by the traditions of the early Christian church:

“But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Meditating on the lessons that we can learn from Dr. King’s life, we are tied into a singular garment of destiny that we must wear every day with grace. Complacency in the face of injustice is a threat to the idea of community and the actions we are compelled by our interconnectedness to take every day. It is a conscious choice to speak truth to power and dismantle any system that does not allow us to treat others as we would want ourselves to be treated. Beyond choosing kindness, boldly taking action to ensure justice and freedom is a step towards God’s vision for us. It is a beautiful dream that seeks to see people of all walks of life marching forward together “to create a new thing”. Dr. King ends his famous “I Have a Dream” speech made on August 28th, 1963 with echoes of that Galatians verse from the Bible referenced above:

“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King’s words resonate with me so deeply because my own journey is tied to people of all kinds who decided to join their hands with my own to effect change. Freedom, justice, equity, and kindness are some of the most precious gifts and values that we can encourage in a just and moral society. Every day at the Los Angeles Mission, it is part of our work and mission to join hands to continue in this tradition of promoting a culture, practice, and active ministry that upholds these values for our community. I pray that you and yours can take these beautiful lessons from the life and activism of this extraordinary man and dream “a song of freedom”.


Yea or Nay on Prop H, Services for the Homeless Must Go On

This fall, residents of Los Angeles will vote on Proposition H, a $1.2-billion bond measure to fund the development of new housing for the homeless. The Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing, and Facilities Bond brings high-level exposure to an issue that continues to plague the city, which has one of the largest homelessness rates nationwide.

But is the bond enough?

While the measure will provide housing, critics have concerns about who will foot the bill, and that it does not provide funding for supportive services. Issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse all must be continually addressed to treat the root causes of homelessness. Still, others contend that it’s a one-two punch – if you provide housing first, the services can come later.

Meanwhile, on the streets

Support is still needed for organizations that are – and have been – providing both housing and services for the homeless, politics aside.

At Los Angeles Mission, homeless individuals can find emergency services, including hot meals, overnight shelter, showers, clean clothing, and temporary baggage shelter. Then, to address the root causes of their homelessness, they can get access to primary healthcare, testing, education, and counseling.

The work of the Mission focuses on key areas: Recovery, rehabilitation, and restoration. People learn how to reconnect with their families and rebuild their confidence and skills. Through the Fresh Start program, they develop the tools they need to transition back to society:

  • Financial planning
  • Parenting
  • Job seeking
  • Career building
  • Community involvement
  • Self-reliance

Another component of the Mission’s work is fostering connections in the community. Through the Mission, people can find resources for financial aid, mentoring, and professional guidance on re-entering the workforce – all factors that have a long-term, sustainable effect on their lives and livelihoods.

Prop H may or may not go forward. But it does shed light on the state of homelessness in Los Angeles and how equal parts housing and services are needed to truly get people off the streets. Before and after November, Big Changes Advisers will continue to work toward both.

Why It’s My Privilege to Volunteer

I have been a volunteer at Los Angeles Mission since June 2014, shortly after I moved to LA from the Greater Cincinnati Area. I was referred to CEO Herb Smith, via Roger Howell at City Gospel Mission in Cincinnati where I previously volunteered. When I first met with Herb, I immediately felt the presence of something special.

I believed then – and still do – that Los Angeles Mission is a safe place filled with love, compassion, humility, and non-judging people. Whether you are a student, volunteer, or employee, everyone really wants to be there, and all for various, good reasons. Some are starting their journey of recovery and spiritual growth, and many of us are working hard to stay the course. It is a journey, and there is no finish line as it never ends.

At the Mission, I first met with Chaplain Allen Ceravolo, Director of Career Services. It was a great meeting. While at City Gospel, I was involved in New Business Development, which involved identifying potential employer relationships with the students. Allen and I discussed this for quite some time. However, he offered me something special: An opportunity to work directly with Los Angeles Mission students engaged in Career Services and the “Life Start” program. I accepted.

Best decision of my life

My primary responsibility is to help students prepare for job interviews. Many of these students have “hard luck” stories involving poverty, substance abuse, mental disorders, physical and mental abuse, domestic violence victims, or criminal records. Others have high school diplomas or college degrees and have moved to LA in pursuit of their dreams. But once here, they have found it difficult to get by in this large and great city.

These students make a 12-month commitment to themselves, to a better life, and to reconnect with God or a higher power. For many students, it is a challenging and trying process from the very first days to the time of their first job interview.

There are many students who have to work extremely hard, turned inward, and who need to heal and recover from many afflictions. Some also realize that this might be their “last stand,” and they are very devoted to healing and making things right for themselves and their loved ones. They realize they have a great opportunity at Los Angeles Mission, and they work hard to make the most of it. Again, there are also many students who need help and guidance to get back on their feet, mature, accept responsibility for their lives, and of course move forward and do their very best.

Giving what we all need: Hope

I get introduced to students after day 90 of the program, and we start to get to know each other a little bit. At this time, they have many thoughts racing through their heads: questions, fears, doubts. I keep the meetings fairly short in the beginning. I emphasize that they have made a great choice and commitment and that if they choose to stay and work, we collectively can find every student an opportunity. We give them hope!

As you can imagine, many students have some reservations, anxiety, and fear. Some have not had a job in many years. Some have fallen prey to addiction, and some have had to deal with consequences of criminal misconduct. Some fear that if they have to discuss their past in a job interview, they will be judged and not given an opportunity to work and provide for themselves and their families.

At Los Angeles Mission, we make every effort to reassure all students that the 12-month commitment to this program is a sign of strength. We encourage them to be honest and not ashamed of their past. I make suggestions in terms of how they can be truthful but how it is not required to delve into every detail of their past. I empower them not to let the interviewer determine where to take the interview.

I tell students that everything we are doing is “practice,” and there is no pass/fail. I tell them that if they stay committed, we will find them opportunity.

I can tell you that there has never been anything more rewarding in my life than when a student comes back to visit and they walk in confidently with their face all lit up with excitement. They tell me, “Mr. Pomeroy, I did it the way we practiced and I got the job!” I do not have the words to describe this feeling.

I have learned much more about many things in the last 2 and ½ years. Among them are compassion and humility, and the importance of being non-assuming and non-judging. I’ve learned to not take things personally and above all, I’ve learned much more about LOVE. And for that I am truly blessed and grateful. Happy Holidays!

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.

Reuniting Homeless Moms with their Children

“There are 450 beds at Los Angeles Mission, and behind each of those beds is a family,” says Los Angeles Mission CEO, Herb Smith. Indeed, when people become homeless, it affects more than just the individual. It has a grave impact on all their loved ones. For homeless moms, it’s especially felt by their children.

Up to 50% of the homeless population in Los Angeles are made up of women, and many of them are single moms. What so many of them want this holiday season is to be with their kids again. At this time, efforts for reunification are more important than ever.

Homeless, without their kids

While homeless families, typically headed by a single mother, account for up to 43% of the homeless in LA County, there are also mothers who have lost not only their homes, but the custody of their children as well.

Many women have dealt with domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues that have left them unable to keep their kids. Arriving at Los Angeles Mission, many are fearful and overwhelmed, with a double challenge of getting their lives on track – and getting their children back.

The support homeless moms need

For these women, guidance and hope is critical. Homelessness in any situation is tragic, creating mental, physical, and emotional stress. But these women have the compounded issues of being away from their kids. Guilt, recovery, and legal issues all combine to make homelessness even more challenging. Adding the element of the holidays only makes it worse.

For these moms, being able to see their kids again is often all they want.

Impact on kids

The effect on kids can be just as harsh. Kids who themselves are homeless can experience negative consequences, including infectious diseases, poorer educational attainments, mental health problems, and overall health issues.

Another issue for homeless children is that they are at high risk of falling behind in school due to their mobility. With every move, children can lose three to six months of education. Without the ability to get a solid, consistent education, homeless children are less likely to acquire the skills they need to succeed as adults.

In addition, homeless moms also may worry that even if their children do have housing, their kids may still feel a sense of abandonment when they, as mothers, can’t be there for them. Symptoms of motherhood abandonment for children include low self-esteem, guilt, and feelings of being “unlovable.”

Bringing moms and kids back together

Because of these potential outcomes, Los Angeles Mission makes every effort to make reunification possible. Through the Anne Douglas Center for Women, homeless moms can go through a 12-month intensive rehabilitation program, in which they are provided shelter, meals, and clothing, and taught the skills to make changes in their lives. They are guided to break the cycle of self-destruction, and finally see themselves as women of value.

From there, women can go on to complete a 12-month transition program, designed to prepare them to re-enter society.

Most importantly, by completing both rehabilitation and transition programs, these women are eligible for support services that are critical to reconnecting with their children: Family reunification and liaison assistance for social and legal proceedings.

Smith says the Los Angeles Mission works to do whatever is appropriate and possible to bring these families back together.

Homelessness takes on many forms, affecting students, veterans, families, women, and moms. And during the holidays, implications of homelessness are especially significant. At Big Change Advisors, we continue to keep these individuals in our thoughts and in our hearts.

Measure H Marks a Big Change for Homelessness in LA

In just days, LA residents will be able to vote on Measure H, part of the one-two punch needed to fight homelessness in LA and help finally get people off the streets.

What is Measure H?

Measure H, the “Los Angeles County Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness” creates a one-quarter of a cent sales tax, which generates funds for the specific purposes of funding homeless services and short-term housing. It complements Proposition HHH, passed in November, that allows for the building of housing for the chronically homeless.

Working together, both pieces of legislation make for a coordinated front of both housing and services to reduce and prevent homelessness in LA.

And all at little cost. The quarter-cent sales tax for Measure H equates to a “dime on a sweater.” According to the Communities United to End Homelessness, which runs Vote Yes on H, the average consumer would pay “a little more than a dollar a month” in sales tax.

Yet, it adds up fast. The measure results in $355 million a year for the next 10 years to go directly to homelessness prevention services, supportive services like mental health care and job training, and non-profit homeless service providers. Sources say the impact will be immediate and, for the homeless, it will bring quick relief.

The Need is Now

In business, companies often reach a point when they can’t afford to not take action. Likewise, the time to act on a solution to homelessness in LA is now. LA is known to have the worst homelessness crisis in the United States. There are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in LA than anywhere in the country. And, the population of homeless people is growing faster than it is in New York City. Just like in business, LA needs a coordinated, collective response now.

Meanwhile at the Mission

As voters turn out on March 7, they have an opportunity to end homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals within five years, and prevent homelessness for an additional 30,000. Going forward – whatever the March vote brings – Big Change Advisors will continue to support Los Angeles Mission in providing emergency care, direct support, and career services to those in need. As an organization committed to fighting homeless both in our volunteering and through corporate responsibility, we will also stand behind Measure H so the Mission can do even more.

Homelessness in Los Angeles: “Top Concern”

It’s not traffic. It’s not crime. A recent poll indicates that addressing homelessness in Los Angeles is more important than ever.

The poll taken by the United Way and reported in L.A. Weekly shows homelessness is a “top concern.” In the survey 19% of 600 respondents said homelessness or poverty was the most important issue facing the city. Only 12% listed crime and police, and 11% said transportation and parking.

It seems the desire to address this issue is growing right along with the city’s rates of homelessness. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services authority, homelessness in Los Angeles County increased 5.7%, jumping from 44,359 in 2015 to 46,874 in 2016.

In addition, there has been a 20% increase in the most visible forms of homelessness in the LA Continuum of Care, including in encampments, tents, and vehicles.

Solutions needed

Right now debates continue about the city’s plans to fight this epidemic. County officials have been lobbying for a “Millionaire’s Tax” to pay for programs to address homelessness, while the governor is opposing calls to declare a state of emergency.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are suffering on the streets and on Skid Row. Housing is lacking and so are the resources available to address what are often the root causes of homelessness: Substance abuse, mental health issues, addiction, poverty, and lack of job skills.

With an issue so great – ranking more significant and important to residents of Los Angeles than crime or transportation – it’s imperative that the city finds solutions to this growing crisis.

We’re in this together

Homelessness is something that can happen to our families, our friends, and our neighbors. In my volunteer work at the Los Angeles Mission, I see people striving every day to improve their lives and return to gainful employment, stable housing, and opportunities to contribute again to society. I also see people committed to helping these individuals in any way they can.

Big Change for homelessness

This growing epidemic is a top concern for Big Change Advisors as well, and we too seek opportunities to effect change.

Our work is three-fold. One, through our philanthropic business model, Big Change Advisors donates a percentage of our profits to help address homelessness. Our clients 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.

This means that companies looking to meet their business goals through mergers, acquisitions, re-sizing, or capital investors, can also meet their goals for philanthropy, corporate responsibility, and serving their communities.

Second, we work hands-on at the mission to provide career services, assistance with resume preparation, and training on how to interview for jobs and keep them.

Third, we continually explore the issue of homeless and what’s needed to alleviate and eliminate it. From there, we share our insights and raise awareness about the issue through our corporate communications and regular blog posts, including:

  • Build It and They May Not Come: Doing Housing Right for L.A.’s Homeless
  • 3 Essential Elements of L.A.’s Plan to Address Homelessness
  • Big Sweeps Don’t Sweep Away Issues with Homelessness
  • Boots on the Ground Help Homeless in Los Angeles

Addressing homelessness in Los Angeles is an issue that is close to us and important to us – a top concern that has framed our business model since our inception. Stay tuned for ongoing updates and perspectives.