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L.A. Community comes together to construct “Safe Landing” housing project for homeless families
By Betti Halsell
Published February 20, 2020

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas opening the press conference for the Safe Landing community day event; (photo credit: Betti Halsell )

           Angelenos answered the social call for action to combat homelessness with local support on Saturday, February 15. A well-orchestrated community event launched the Safe Landing project. The city of Los Angeles naturally responded to the terrible epidemic of homelessness by generously donating food, house appliances, and physical labor to construct ten temporary housing arrangements for displaced families. Found on 85th and Broadway, is the active Safe Landing community. This was a public and private partnership raising awareness and finding immediate solutions to the challenge homelessness living in Los Angeles.  

              According to the Homeless Services Authority’s count, between 2018 and 2019 homelessness in Los Angeles increased by sixteen percent; approximately 60,000 men, women, and children are living without a stable foundation. The displaced population has visually increased from Skid row to Venice.  With no suitable place to go, the unfortunate are seen under freeways and pitching tents along cracked sidewalks and street corners; openly exposed to the city elements and unpredictable weather. This past weekend, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas promptly lead the effective presentation of Safe Landing. He stated, “It was only possible because of widespread commitment and partnership.” He conveyed gratitude to California elected Governor Gavin Newsom, who sent down the mobile home sites that were turnkey ready for destitute families.  

               With California state support, L.A. county departments partnered with local St. Joseph Center, Homeless Initiative and other philanthropic organizations. Collectively, they created a community for ten local families to live properly in mobile homes of modern design. This community day event had more than 50 active volunteers assembled playsets, dog-runs, and patio sets donated by the California Community Foundation. Residents of the surrounding L.A. communities and supporters of St. Joseph were majority of the volunteers that supported the construction of the landing site in the Broadway area.   

St. Joseph Center President and CEO, Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum thanking her team of volunteers. Photo credit: Betti Halsell

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas went on to reveal that this event was accomplished in less than one months’ time; government agencies pushed new level of urgency for this benefit. California Community Foundation, VP for health and Housing, Ann Sewill represented her department. At the event she expressed her deep appreciation for the rapid solution Safe Landing provides, “To be able to do this in 3 weeks… I have added to my list of miracles in my life. To have seen public works move this quickly is inspirational.”  

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           Other keynote speakers include Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum CEO and president of St. Joseph Center, Television host Jimmy Kimmel, and Deputy Director of organizing for United way of Greater Los Angeles, Gabriela Solorzano. Speaking for her dedicated team, CEO of St. Joseph Center Dr. Va Lecia stated, “The generosity of the donors, volunteers, and supporters made today possible. Being homeless can be an isolating experience. By joining today, we are showing our homeless neighbors that they aren’t alone – we are here with them.” One can see the caring spirit worn on the radiant faces of each St. Joseph Volunteer that was there. 

Local volunteers building playhouse for the Safe Landing living site. Photo Credit: Betti Halsell

             Television host Jimmy Kimmel and his lovely wife Molly McNearney accompanied by the Jimmy Kimmel Live team came out to generously support the building of Safe Landing. Sharing a level of social influence, they donated housewares and food. His wife Molly and the Jimmy Kimmel live team spent time beautifying the site and trailer residency. During the presentation of the new housing project Jimmy stated, “We must do something about homelessness, and what you really can do, is help on an individual basis, helping ten families get on their feet is a great thing.”  

           Other L.A. county supporters included Councilmember Curren Price, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Gabriela Solorzano, the Deputy Director of Organizing for United Way protested, “This is one of the hardest parts, is actually setting up the site and bringing the neighbors in. Sometimes we get a lot of push back from our neighbors but that is not the case when we really engage residents and talk about the drivers into homelessness, which are currently economics. A lot of the families that are moving in are not homeless for any other reason than economic.”  

From Left to Right: Councilmember Curren Price, T.V. Host Jimmy Kimmel, CEO of St. Joseph Center Va Lecia Adams Kellum, and Superviser of the Second district Mark Ridley- Thomas. Photo Credit: Betti Halsell

               Inside the residency, was a contemporary style kitchen, decorated bedroom, dining room area, and restroom. Fully stocked with essential living appliances available in each exclusive trailer. Suitable dishes, bedding, and nutritious food awaits the arrival of families who are need of hospitable shelter and lasting peace of mind. One could see volunteers as young as six years old painting welcome signs and decorating pots for plants. Those handmade ornaments will signify sense of a new beginning to the future families progressively moving into these homes.  

                The enthusiastic volunteers installed landscaping, cleaned, and supplied household goods for their new hopeful neighbors. Welcome baskets will be given to commemorate the city support to vulnerable people seeking shelter. It is with great acknowledgment that we, L.A. natives, are here to help and encourage our local neighbors in considerable times of economic need. This temporary housing project is symbolic to the consistent growth in genuine compassion and active community for the city of angels.  

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Categories: Family | Local | News | News (Family) | Political
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