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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

L.A. Orgs Announce Grants That Will Aid Jewish Help for the Homeless

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Esther D. Kustanowitz
Esther D. Kustanowitz is a Contributing Writer at the Jewish Journal. She previously was the Founding Editor at GrokNation.com. She is an experienced freelance writer and consultant specializing in social media, pop culture, grief and Jewish community conversation. She is frequently sought-after as a source on social media engagement and culture, and is known as a Jewish community social influencer.

Homelessness in the city of Los Angeles is up 16% from last year, while L.A. County numbers are up 12%. However, new grants from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (JCFLA) and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will provide funding to organizations supporting services for homeless people and new housing models aimed at creating affordable shelter. 

On July 16, JCFLA announced $600,000 in General Community Grants to three organizations that provide housing to homeless individuals and families. The organizations, Brilliant Corners, LA Family Housing (LAFH) and The People Concern, will each receive $200,000. The overall amount represents a 22% increase in the foundation’s funding to homelessness related organizations from last year. 

Foundation President and CEO Marvin I. Schotland said in a press release that his organization expects the grants will provide hundreds of people the opportunity to transition to permanent housing and “bring further attention to this pressing issue affecting us all, and encourage other funders and community leaders to step forward and work together to address it.”

He added, “We recognize that homelessness is a large-scale, complex problem that requires the kind of bold thinking and innovative interventions reflected by this year’s General Community Grant recipients to whom we are proud to provide our support.”

On Aug. 5, the foundation announced its Cutting Edge Grants to seven innovative local initiatives focused on transforming Jewish Los Angeles, including Safe Parking LA (SPALA), which provides safe parking options and supportive services for individuals living in their vehicles. SPALA will receive $300,000 over three years to engage synagogues and members. The Journal has covered IKAR’s involvement in this program. SPALA co-founder and Executive Director Scott Sale said in the release that the new grant will be able to expand the program beyond IKAR “into other synagogues within Los Angeles City and County as it attempts to provide refuge and connect the 15,000 persons presently living in vehicles.”

“We recognize that homelessness is a
large-scale, complex problem that requires the kind of bold thinking and innovative interventions reflected by this year’s General Community Grant recipients.” — Marvin I. Schotland

Through its Motel Conversion Project, Brilliant Corners will renovate a Mid-City L.A. motel and provide housing for dozens of homeless individuals. It plans to scale the project by providing technical assistance to other housing providers so that hundreds more individuals can be housed. 

The People Concern is partnering with Flyaway Homes for a Scalable Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless Individuals program by leveraging private investment dollars and modular construction to reduce the cost and time it takes to develop permanent supportive housing. 

The LA Family Housing grant will support its Shared Family Interim Housing project as it purchases, renovates and converts three San Fernando Valley houses into shared interim housing for homeless families, giving them access to schools, parks and supportive services. 

Cedars-Sinai is contributing $15 million — up from $5.9 million last year — to 108 nonprofit programs and organizations that foster housing stability, provide sustainable programs for the homeless and build clinical and financial capacity at community clinics, according to a press release. The grants, announced in July, will support mental health training, services for LGBTQ+ and veterans’ groups, and a range of social services provided by several Jewish organizations including the Jewish Free Loan Association, which will receive $500,000 over five years to establish the Cedars-Sinai Housing Stability Loan Fund, designed to provide immediate housing assistance to stabilize those on the verge of homelessness.

According to the release, Cedars-Sinai also is making grants to Jewish Family Service, Sharsheret and Bet Tzedek to serve a range of social, education, homeless and legal needs. 

“We take our role in the community as seriously as we take patient care, research and education,” Cedars-Sinai President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac said in the release. “We are driven by a strategic focus on improving access to care and addressing social determinants of health. Ultimately, we are working to break down barriers that affect tens of thousands of people within the safety net.”

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