Beverly prepared for her photo shoot. She freshened up her face, made sure her hair was in place pinning it back with accessories. After roughly a half-hour, she was ready for the camera.
Sounds like most people preparing to have a professional picture taken, right?
Sadly, that is where the similarities end. Beverly moved to Los Angeles 11 years ago after experiencing Hurricane Katrina. She currently sleeps on a mattress under a city bridge and is considered chronically homeless.
We don't often acknowledge the basic similarities we share as humans, especially with those experiencing homelessness. But we all need to feel dignity, to feel attractive and to simply be seen.
I have a deeper connection with Beverly as I, too, experienced homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles. While that was over 21 years ago, my passion for ending homelessness in Los Angeles has never been stronger.
The number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles continues to increase. There was an 11% increase in homelessness last year. This year, the number of tent encampments and people living in their vehicles has jumped 20%.
I have been advocating for the Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing, and Facilities Bond. Known as Prop HHH, this is a $1.2 billion bond measure that will provide the funding and infrastructure necessary to end and prevent chronic homelessness in the City of Los Angeles.
Prop HHH will help finance a significant increase in L.A.'s Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a proven strategy to end chronic homelessness. If you're not aware of Housing First and how supportive housing saves lives, please watch this short video. Featuring Dr. Sam Tsemberis, PhD, the founder of Pathways to Housing, the video also explains how supportive housing can save taxpayers money in the long run.
L.A. needs an additional 10,000 units of Permanent Supportive Housing in order to house all of the City's chronically homeless residents. This includes women and children, veterans, seniors, foster youth and the disabled.
Prop HHH will be paid for with a roughly $9 increase in property taxes for every $100,000 of assessed value. The average Los Angeles homeowner will have an increase of approximately $30 per year in property tax. That's $30 a year to save lives, to save people like Beverly.
I met Beverly when I joined an outreach team for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Despite her situation, simply asking if I could take her photo made her day. She gathered up as much self-worth and dignity as she could. She rummaged through her bags to find a brush and a mirror. Using water from a plastic jug, she washed her face. Then Beverly added a few items to her hair as her final touches.
As awesome as the experience was, Beverly is vulnerable. She is dying on the streets of Los Angeles like so many others. They need our help.
We must be willing to pay to end homelessness as this crisis will not solve itself. The greater Los Angeles community needs to come together to support Prop HHH. The longer Angelenos wait to take action, the worse and more expensive the homelessness crisis will get.
Please VOTE YES on Proposition HHH to help create 10,000 supportive housing units for our homeless neighbors. Most importantly, vote Yes to save lives and ultimately revitalize our greater LA community. When you go to vote, find Prop HHH on page 29, which is the last page of the ballot.
To learn more about the Los Angeles homeless crisis and Prop HHH, follow me on social media where I am sharing stories daily about our neighbors in need.