This week, we had the pleasure to talk with Julie Rusk, the Human Services Manager for the City of Santa Monica. Santa Monica has proven to be a great partner of Home For Good, and here are 4 new things we learned from them this week.
1. Why did the City of Santa Monica decide to sign on to Home For Good?
While the City has been formally coordinating our local response to homelessness since we convened a Community Task Force on Homelessness in 1991, we have also been advocating and supporting broader, regional responses to this issue. No one community can end homelessness alone – what we do locally impacts the issue regionally and vice versa. We support Home for Good because we feel we can contribute, and if other communities sign on also, it will bring tangible change.
2. In what ways has the City aligned its homeless initiatives with Home For Good?
Home for Good provides a strong, practical approach to a regional coordinated effort to end homelessness that is in line with what we already do and hope to do more of! The timing has been great, as this Plan was developed while the City was developing our next four-year grant making cycle to support homeless housing and services. We looked for opportunities in our RFP to support the goals of Home for Good – for example, we emphasized the use of Housing First as the preferred approach, reiterated the City’s priority to serve chronically homeless individuals from our Service Registry, and we added a service component this year to fund programs that provide support services to people in permanent housing. These are small steps, but we hope to continue to look for ways to create synergy between the City’s priorities and Home for Good. We want the same thing – to end chronic and veteran homelessness – so it’s not hard to get on board.
3. What makes you believe we can end chronic and veteran homelessness in L.A. County by 2016?
It’s an optimistic goal, but the City has already made great progress – in just the past 2 years, we’ve seen a 25% reduction in homelessness in our community. If every community is committed to doing the same – committed to a reduction in homelessness – and is given the tools and resources to do it, then we can get there someday. While ending homelessness for 48,000 people may seem overwhelming, if each community commits to ending homelessness for their residents – maybe that’s just a few hundred people in a small city or even a few dozen in a neighborhood – then it suddenly seems possible.
4. If you were a superhero, what super power would you have?
I would use my magic wand to instill focus at all levels of government, business, faith, and community sectors on the economic and moral imperative of ending homelessness and poverty in this country of abundance. The great recession has shown that no one is immune to the ravaging effects of sudden poverty. Cutting education, social services and safety net programs simply gives up on the potential of millions of low and moderate income households to contribute to the health of our national economy and our social fabric.