*A NOTE FROM DWC: After this piece was published, we were thrilled to see the City of Los Angeles issue a revised strategy specifically including women and addressing their unique needs. The City's revised plans note the increased rate of domestic violence seen among homeless women, as well as the need for supportive housing and Trauma-Informed Care. The plans also call for more research on homeless women and survivors of domestic violence, due to the scarcity of information currently available. These changes would not have happened without your support, the continued advocacy of other service providers and community organizations, and the work of those in our city government including Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember José Huizar, and their teams. We realize that while this is a great first step for our city, we still have a long way to go; in order to keep moving forward, we need every voice to speak up on behalf of women. Thank you for your continued support as we work toward ending homelessness for good. Find out how you can take action now below!
2016 is shaping up to be a significant turning point in homelessness policy in Los Angeles. This month, the City and County each released detailed recommended strategies to work toward ending homelessness.
After the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported a 12 percent increase in the County’s homeless population in 2015, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors launched the Homeless Initiative, an ongoing effort to combat the County’s growing homeless crisis. In January 2016, the County released a series of strategies and recommended funding that fall under six goals: Prevent Homelessness, Subsidize Housing, Increase Income, Provide Case Management and Services, Create a Coordinated System, and Increase Affordable Housing.
In coordination with the County, LA City released a similar set of plans outlining steps to end homelessness at a local level. Its Comprehensive Homeless Strategy emphasizes the importance of creating a coordinated, ongoing, and effective system with LA County. The plan includes a commitment to spend $1.85 billion on combating homelessness over the next 10 years and directly addresses the housing crisis in our city.
At the Downtown Women’s Center, we are heartened by the increased regional efforts toward addressing homelessness, and we’re excited to see the City’s and County collaborating with one another and with service providers. We’re most pleased to see that the plans are grounded in nationally recognized models in critical areas such as housing, health and support services, social enterprise, and workforce development.
However, neither the City nor County plan directly addresses the needs of homeless women. This lack of recognition as a community with specific vulnerabilities and service needs is glaring and troubling.
Based on our nearly four decades in Skid Row, we know that the vulnerabilities of homeless women are unique; they require specific attention and services. However, services currently fail to address a woman’s higher likelihood of having survived violence, her unique health care or job-training needs, or the ways in which her goals for her future may vary from those of a homeless man.
At this tipping point in our City’s and County’s approaches to homelessness, we have the opportunity to make a significant leap forward. Just as with youth and veteran homelessness before, a commitment to and success in addressing a subpopulation opens doors to increased community will, resources, and visibility for the greater population. For example, here’s a great example of what can be done to specifically address the needs of homeless women.
We have the opportunity to make a significant leap forward.
We urge Los Angeles to lead the nation by example in addressing the needs of unaccompanied homeless women. If you design for the majority, the minority falls through the cracks – the homeless women of greater Los Angeles deserve to be seen.
* Download DWC's full responses to the City of Los Angeles's Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy and the County of Los Angeles’s Homeless Initiative recommended strategies below.
Tell LA City and County officials why women must be specifically addressed in all plans to end homelessness. Use our sample letters below or write your own letter to the County Supervisor and City Councilmember in your district.
Dear County Supervisor,
There are more than 44,000 homeless individuals living in Los Angeles County. Of that number, more than 13,500 (33 percent) of them are women. The experiences and vulnerabilities of homeless women are unique, and thus require specific attention, services, and funding. Today, we have an opportunity to take a significant leap forward. We urge LA County to lead the nation by example in specifically addressing the needs of homeless women when allocating funding and developing strategies to end homelessness.
Dear City Councilmember,
There are more than 25,600 homeless individuals living in the city of Los Angeles. Of that number, more than 8,100 (32 percent) of them are women. The experiences and vulnerabilities of homeless women are unique, and thus require specific attention, services, and funding. Today, we have an opportunity to take a significant leap forward. We urge LA City to lead the nation by example in specifically addressing the needs of homeless women when allocating funding and developing strategies to end homelessness.
Photos by: Erica Kawamoto Hsu