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DignityNOW: Ending Unsheltered Homelessness

Idea by DignityMoves

The LA2050 Grants Challenge said housing/homelessness got more votes than ANY issue. DignityMoves works to end unsheltered homelessness in communities by building interim supportive housing as a rapid, cost-effective, and scalable solution. We will launch a proof of concept model for small to mid-sized LA County cities, starting with the City of Norwalk. Using our DignityNOW approach, we will build enough interim housing to move everyone off the streets so they are not left suffering while waiting for affordable and supportive housing.

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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?

County of Los Angeles

Other:: Southeast LA County and Gateway Cities

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?

The streets in LA County have become the waiting room for people seeking housing. In 2022, LA County's point-in-time count identified 69,144 people experiencing homelessness with 41,980 in the City of LA and 27,164 across the remainder of the region. This is a humanitarian crisis and it is unacceptable. In fact, Mayor Bass' first action was to declare a state of emergency on homelessness. Despite efforts to increase housing production, there is no feasible path to build sufficient affordable housing in California given budget, land, and zoning realities-even as the homelessness crisis exacts an unacceptable toll on those without a home, and their communities. Permanent supportive housing takes 5+ years to build and costs $6-800k/unit. DignityMoves units cost $50k/unit and can be built in 6 months. Flipping that ratio ensures we can address homelessness in a rapid, cost-effective, and scalable way and bring people off the streets NOW and provide the care they need to stabilize.

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

DignityMoves is partnering with the City of Norwalk to develop a strategic homelessness plan to address their unsheltered population to be completed by 10/31/23. As one of the strategies, we are introducing a LA County proof of concept model, with Norwalk leading the charge. Using our DignityNOW approach and innovative model, we propose development of interim supportive housing for small to mid-sized cities with lower PIT counts by building enough transitional housing to get everyone off their streets with a prioritization for their residents. Key to our success is using underutilized and low cost land, emergency building codes, and modular and prefabricated cabin systems with a focus on building communities not just rooms. DignityMoves strategizes with city leadership providing the following services 1) identify appropriate and cost-effective land, 2) unlock funding channels especially from the private sector, 3) hire housing development and construction teams, 4) develop site plans, 5) provide construction management, and 6) help identify and partner with the supportive services agency. Norwalk is the perfect candidate to launch this model as their PIT count is 311 individuals as of 2022. Norwalk has been a proven leader and innovator in developing effective homelessness solutions that can be replicated by other LA County cities. This is due to deep alignment across their city agencies on how they want to address homelessness and create a thriving community for all.

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

LA County is predominantly small to mid-sized cities who struggle for resources in a broader county strategy. Leveraging public-private partnerships, we unlock private funding, identify free/low cost sites, use prefabricated systems, and optimize existing services. The model has the potential to significantly reduce pressure on the County to be the major funding source, and entrusts cities to implement locally specific solutions with an engaged stakeholder group. Interim supportive housing plays a vital role in accelerating the speed and flow of getting people off the streets and into stable housing. Our target goal is an average stay of 6-12 months, which is dependent on having strong 24/7 wrap-around services, on-site management, and security. Long-term, we want to close the transitional housing gap to immediately address the needs of all who become homeless, and provide stabilization services so they can move to affordable/supportive housing before becoming chronically homeless.

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

Our impact speaks for itself. The trauma and instability that co-occur with chronic homelessness makes a strong case for rapid efforts to end unsheltered homelessness and the length of time an individual is homeless, ultimately reducing the cost/time to resolve their situation. Our approach is centered on seeing residents transition to stable housing within 6-12 months. With that in mind, the outcomes from our downtown Santa Barbara site are powerful and examples of what we will track in Norwalk. All residents work with an intensive case manager to create an exit plan for a secure, stable transition. As of May 2023, of the 34 individuals who moved in during Q3 of 2022: 8 individuals secured jobs 12 individuals transitioned to stable housing 29 individuals connected to health care 28 individuals connected to mental health services 85% residents are document ready for the next steps in the process 6-month average length of stay For more, watch our DignityNOW Santa Barbara video.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 69,144

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

This is not a collaborative proposal, but we cannot overstate the significance of partnerships with municipalities, the private sector, and service providers. Grant funds, if awarded, will in part be used for aligning these partnerships as part of the successful outcome of the initiative.