Mayor Karen Bass and Rev. Kelvin Sauls (Courtesy photo)

Years of collaborating with faith and municipal leaders to reduce homelessness resulted in the Rev. Kelvin Sauls being recognized by the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA) and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass on Friday, June 23.

In a ceremony in the LAHSA boardroom, Sauls received an engraved plaque expressing “gratitude for your dedication to ending homelessness and compassion for those in need.” He served 10 years as a LAHSA commissioner, from March 2013 to May 2023, and worked closely with the administrations of Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Eric Garcetti and Bass.

According to his board colleagues, Sauls was the “moral compass” of the Commission, always emphasizing the humanity of unhoused individuals and urging treating people experiencing homelessness with dignity.

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“During my tenure as a LAHSA commissioner, I focused on being a strategic bridge-builder while advocating for increased investment in developing the agency, building the capacity building of community partners and service providers, and developing partnerships with convene public, private and philanthropic resources to bring our sisters and brothers inside safely,” said Sauls, whose work on behalf of the homeless community predates his service on the commission.

His activities in this area include organizing and mobilizing community support for the passing of Measures H and HHH in L.A. city and county, and encouraging faith ministries to re-think, re-purpose and re-deploy resources toward prevention and intervention of homelessness. Also, Sauls co-founded and served as board chair of the South L.A. Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative.

From left, front, are Commissioner Irene Muro, Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, LAHSA CEO, Mayor Karen Bass, Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, Commissioner Jacqueline Waggoner, Commissioner Booker Pearson, (back) Commissioner Kelvin Sauls, Commissioner Tanisha Saunders and Commissioner Wendy Greuel. (Courtesy photo)

“In this role, I persuaded diverse organizations to unite in seeking to eliminate youth homelessness in the south Los Angeles region,” recalled Sauls, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa.

“In addition to it being a humanitarian crisis, homelessness is also a moral crisis. As a follower of Jesus Christ, a homeless migrant who was born in a stable, my faith motivated me to get involved personally and congregationally.”

As for the future, Sauls will focus on developing projects and programs to assist ministries and faith groups interested in combatting and preventing homelessness.

“I believe that the faith community continues to be the sleeping giant in the fight to end homelessness,” he said.

“Congregations have people, property and platforms that can catalyze compassionate and creative programmatic action and courageous prophetic advocacy for prevention and systemic change. I’ve always leaned on the scriptural charge that emirates from Jeremiah 29:7 and Matthew 25:40.”

Jeremiah 29:7 reads: Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (NIV)

Matthew 25:40 says: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (NIV)

“I am available to deploy my institutional knowledge, theological perspective, formational skills and practical tools to co-journ, collaborate, consult and co-create with elected, corporate, faith and community leaders committed to realizing beloved communities where everyone can equitably and boldly belong,” added Sauls.

“From sanctuaries, suites and the streets, I look forward to keep on fighting the good fight in this labor of love, as we face the rising sun from south Los Angeles to South Africa!”