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Take a walk in the neighborhood of Silver Lake and you will quickly notice the art and murals that cover the walls and buildings, the sculptures that rest on the center dividers of the roads, and the hand-painted electrical boxes, among other artistic distinctions.  Nothing about the neighborhood is typical or “cookie-cutter” by design, and many of the apartments and houses are left the way they were created nearly a hundred years ago.

The neighborhood preserves its historic beauty but, nonetheless, it is progressive by nature. Stakeholders are characterized by their willingness to be different and voice their beliefs. Silver Lake achieves this outstanding presence because it is a community defined by its people.

Sadly, Silver Lake’s population also includes more than 300 people experiencing homelessness.  Between the colorful murals, music venues, and exciting shops and restaurants, all too often you also find people lying on the sidewalk suffering from the years they have spent living on the streets. And many of them will die alone on the streets if they do not receive help right away.

I propose a new goal for the community of Silver Lake: to define itself not only by art and culture, but to become a neighborhood of concerned citizens that leverages its resources, time, and money to help its homeless neighbors.

On October 21-24, the initiative known as Silver Lake Connections, under the leadership of non-profit PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), will mobilize more than 100 volunteers to canvas Silver Lake’s streets and survey people who are homeless.  Each person’s photo and personal information will be entered into a database. The survey data will be used to determine which individuals are the most vulnerable. Housing will be provided for those people who are determined most likely to die as a result of their homelessness.  Not only will these individuals be housed, but they will be provided with wrap-around supportive services so they can become healthy and contributing members of the community.

Silver Lake Connections is supported by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and follows a national model created by the 100,000 Homes Campaign; the same organization that went intoNew York’sTimes Square and decreased homelessness by 87 percent. It is an approach that has proven to not only manage homelessness, but to end it permanently.

We hope you will join us in this cutting-edge initiative by giving your time, money, or resources to help transform an already outstanding community in the heart of Los Angeles. More than 100 volunteers are needed for this campaign, and community groups can also help out by providing home furnishings as people move into housing. Please contact jessicaw@epath.org to confirm your participation or learn more by visiting EPATH’s website.  

Generous supporters of the Silver Lake Connections Campaign include 100,000 Homes Campaign/Community Solutions, Office of Council President Eric Garcetti, Office of Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Prudential Realty, S.H. Ho Foundation, Silver Lake Improvement Association, Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

Jessica Wishan is a resident of Silver Lake, manages community engagement initiatives for PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) and sits on the Board of the Silver Lake Improvement Association.


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