Bill Tarkanian, Director of Program Development , L.A. CADA

The Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (L.A. CADA) provides critical life-saving, healthy-living services in downtown Los Angeles, on Skid Row, going on two decades.  Recently, L.A. CADA collaborated with the Los Angeles Mission to offer 50 transitional living beds to L.A. CADA participants enrolled in Outpatient or Intensive Outpatient Treatment at its facility at 470 East 3rd Street, in downtown Los Angeles.  In addition to treatment for substance use and / or co-occurring disorders , L.A. CADA offers each of the participants intensive case management services, group and individual counseling, therapy, and other critical healthy living services required for a successful journey from active addiction to sustained recovery, and an impactful life away from Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row.

The Los Angeles Mission is one of the nation’s largest service providers for the homeless.  Its motto is “A Mission Without Walls,” and in addition to emergency and transitional housing, the Los Angeles Mission provides its community with a full array of supportive services including medical and dental care, access to legal services, educational and vocational services, and other pro-social activities.

Skid Row is approximately 30 square blocks of abject poverty, with up to 10,000 homeless men, women and children at any time. In the midst of this living hell are numerous agencies serving as angels to most unfortunate, including L.A. CADA and the Los Angeles Mission.

The genesis of this collaboration began back in August 2018 at a training sponsored by the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) in Long Beach, CA. Steven Schultze, V.P. of Programs at the Los Angeles Mission, and Bill Tarkanian, Director of Program Development at L.A. CADA, met for the first time.  Both were attending a training for Treatment Executives, and they started up a conversation about how the two agencies could collaborate to address the needs of the homeless and substance using adults living on Skid Row, from a holistic recovery model.

The conversation between Steven and Bill blossomed into a collaboration between their respective agencies, resulting in an innovative pilot program, funded by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, operated by L.A. CADA, and hosted by the L.A. Mission.  30 beds, soon to be 50, were set aside for homeless patients enrolled in treatment at L.A. CADA.  The collaboration allows L.A. CADA @ L.A. Mission participants to utilize all of the services the Los at Angeles Mission for up to six months, as long as they remain actively engaged in treatment for their substance use or co-occurring disorders. The two agencies collaborate by way of cross-referrals so that those they serve can overcome homelessness and substance abuse, for themselves and their families, creating a better life them, and for our community at large.

Bill Tarkanian, attributes this collaboration to the agencies Executive Directors, Juan Navarro at L.A. CADA, and Herb Smith of the L.A. Mission. “Herb approached us with the opportunity, and Juan immediately decided it needed to happen. Without their forward leaning leadership, commitment to their respective agencies, and the people and communities we serve, this doesn’t happen. Getting the County on board to assist with funding was the direct result of Juan’s and Herb’s vision. It’s very exciting. My counterpart at the Los Angeles Mission, Steven Schultze, and I worked out the logistical concerns, and what started as an aspiration has become a reality, with the hope that it will serve as a model for others to replicate.

According to Tarkanian, L.A. CADA @ L.A. Mission is yet another great example of how we can lift people out of sickness, poverty and despair, and allow them to live a life of purpose and meaning with dignity. We are very intentional about it and committed to those existing on the margins, so that one day the margins are erased, and we are all in the center, living to the fullest and being the best we can be”