2022 Grants Challenge

Food Boost

Housing Works developed its Food Boost program during the pandemic to ensure that its most vulnerable, elderly and ill formerly chronically homeless participants would have access to free, fresh, culturally relevant food. The program is now being institutionalized to ensure that people living in permanent supportive housing can remain housed and off the streets for good. LA2050 funding will purchase a delivery van to distribute twice-weekly, culturally relevant meals and grocery boxes.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Housing and Homelessness

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

As one of Los Angeles' most effective homeless services providers, Housing Works knows what it takes to get the most vulnerable and chronically unhoused people into permanent housing with a 96% rate of housing retention success. We slam the revolving door of homelessness shut, ensuring those who overcome extreme barriers to become housed will retain that housing for good. The 700 people we support in permanent supportive housing remain extremely at-risk, living on the margins on fixed incomes far below the poverty rate. They suffer from disabling physical and mental health conditions and are vulnerable to illness, injury, crime and food insecurity. Many are afraid to leave their apartments, struggle to navigate public transportation, and live in urban food deserts requiring travel out of the area. Food services, such as Meals on Wheels, are far too expensive and they are unable to access food banks. In ill health, they deserve fresh, healthy culturally relevant food options.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

During the pandemic, Housing Works frontline workers quickly assessed that their most elderly and ill participants were, quite literally, starving due to the issues listed above. In response, we launched Food Boost, a life-saving intervention that delivers a hot meal and a grocery box to people living in permanent supportive housing who are assessed as being food insecure. The food delivery also provides an extra "check in" to ensure that participants are safe, eating and able to communicate. We now consider Food Boost to be an essential component of our housing retention supports continuum. We partner with EFSP, the Hollywood Food Coalition and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to offer twice-weekly deliveries to 200 individuals. Given the vulnerability of our service population, we know that there are more people who would benefit from Food Boost, but we are limited by our delivery capacity. Housing Works is seeking an LA2050 grant to purchase a Ford Transit Delivery van, outfitted with a parcel delivery interior system and an attractive exterior wrap to promote Housing Works and LA2050. This van is easily loadable and can carry more than the cars we're currently using meaning that we can provide Food Boost to more people thanks to greater delivery efficiency. Housing Works is its participants' support system and connection to the world. Our staff is specially trained to work with people with mental illness, ensure their safety and housing retention.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

While there are segments of the population of people experiencing homelessness who are able to get back on their feet with relatively little assistance, Housing Works recognizes that there are some members of the community who are simply too mentally or physically ill to ever fully care for themselves without significant help. It is crucial to ensure that the people who are the most chronically homeless retain their housing and do not cycle back into homelessness at ground zero after significant resources have been dedicated to their housing. If we are to end Los Angeles' homelessness crisis, we need to find and fund multi-dimensional solutions that address the the different realities of homelessness. Food Boost may look simple on the surface, but housing retention supports that keep folks housed and healthy provide a tremendous return on investment in the form of savings to our safety-net systems. Food is a basic human right. Healthy, fresh, culturally relevant food is human decency.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Measurement of Food Boost's impact is tracked as part of Housing Works' data collection system. We track food deliveries, the number of people receiving food assistance, the number of meals delivered and the number of people receiving Food Boost who remain housed. As part of its commitment to food justice, Housing Works is exploring ways to provide participants with culturally responsive food and to ensure that the quality and nutrition of food is high. We will develop surveys to assess participant satisfaction and feedback in this regard. Evaluation of the implementation of the truck purpose will be measured against the project's budget, timeline and projected utilization.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 700