During the past few weeks, we’ve introduced you to some of the incredible outreach workers helping to end homelessness across L.A. County.
You’ve met medical professionals, housing navigators, peer advocates, mental health experts, and nearly all of the different specialists that encompass holistic street outreach.
But in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this work becomes so much more critical.
Next up, you’ll get to know Elyse and Joseph, two former volunteers who fell in love with outreach work and decided to make it their career.
Joseph works for Exodus Recovery, an organization focused on providing psychiatric and substance use treatment, on the E6 team in Northeast L.A.
Don’t worry about the letter or the number. What E6 teams do is multifaceted intervention, prevention, and engagement with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. That means anything from securing medicine, to helping people apply for housing.
Made possible by voter-approved funding, E6 teams are part of a countywide outreach system that has engaged more than 9,000 people living outside, connected 4,000 people to needed services, and helped place over 600 people in housing.
Before beginning his current job, Joseph volunteered on Skid Row for seven years. At an open mic he helped organize for Skid Row residents, Joseph met a woman who he would later end up working with as her case manager with Exodus Recovery. It was that connection, and her talent as a singer that helped Joseph develop a trusting relationship and ultimately match her with services.
“I do my best to address people as people experiencing homelessness, because when we say words like ‘homeless’ it kind of reduces the person from a human being, versus a person that has a diverse, complex kind of situation.”
Speaking candidly with Everyone In, Joseph reflects on the misconceptions of trauma and addiction in relation to homelessness.
“My purpose is to help in my community. I work in the area that I grew up in and that my family grew up in, and my family, too, has suffered from substance use, addiction, and trauma. I’m still in that fight trying to help the people that are here now, trying to build community and build solutions that can last generations.”
We’re deeply grateful to see Joseph’s work to not only help with the immediate needs of his clients, but also to build systems that will end homelessness in Northeast L.A. for good.
Elyse has been working at The Center in Hollywood for about 2 ½ years as an outreach case manager. The Center is dedicated to ending isolation for people experiencing homelessness by providing trauma-informed care, as well as programs and activities that foster community connections and create pathways to housing.
As soon as you enter The Center, you feel the warmth and graciousness of the people who work there. Speaking from the beautiful patio where coffee and yoga is often served, Elyse speaks glowingly of her team.
“I honestly believe that this is the most magical place in Hollywood, maybe even Los Angeles. There’s so much love here, it’s incredible.”
Just like Joseph, Elyse came to her role after serving as a volunteer for several years providing outreach along the Arroyo River and falling in love with the community there.
“I love my clients,” she says. “I love walking side by side with them. I love helping them meet their goals and I honestly think this is the most important job that I could be doing right now.”
Some of the daily tasks that Elyse does to serve her clients? Helping get documentation for permanent housing or services, setting up medical appointments, and matching them with the immediate housing when available.
“I think a common misconception is that it’s really easy for people to go inside, get a job, or get out of homelessness. It’s really not that simple. For somebody to do that there has to be proper programming in place, there has to be housing, there has to be interim housing, bridge housing, all of these components have to be in place for somebody to be able to do that. It’s a systemic thing.”
These systemic issues are what people like Elyse and Joseph are trying to change through outreach. Our role as advocates is to support their work by fighting to create more housing, more funding for services, and more awareness and urgency around solutions needed to end and prevent homelessness.
Joseph and Elyse are two heroes out of thousands of people working to get Everyone In across Los Angeles.
Because of people like them, 133 people move from the streets into housing every single day.
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