New City resources will help Angelenos better understand how they can play a role in helping their unsheltered neighbors
LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti today convened more than 100 religious leaders from across L.A. to launch Days of Compassion — an interfaith effort to rally faith community support in the fight to end chronic homelessness.
The faith leaders joined the Mayor in signing a pledge to “open our doors without fear, our resources without restraint, our minds without reservation, and our hearts without judgment.” Over the next four months, they will put a renewed focus on the values of compassion, and lead their congregations in efforts to support their homeless neighbors — from hosting mobile showers in their parking lots to organizing tours of permanent supportive housing and offering day-storage for unsheltered Angelenos’ belongings, so they can look for work and housing.
“Faith leaders share messages with the power to move hearts and open minds, and their leadership empowers communities to make meaningful, lasting change,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Days of Compassion will give thousands of Angelenos a new opportunity to put their faith into action — by lifting up the most vulnerable, and pulling people together around the idea that everyone deserves to live in safety and with dignity.”
To support their work, the Mayor’s office launched a Days of Compassion website that will help Angelenos organize, donate, and explore the possibility of using underutilized properties as future sites for showers, access points for supportive services, or permanent supportive housing. A liaison from the Planning Department will offer a complimentary assessment of the property to determine the feasibility of building housing or other permanent structures to house homeless services.
The Mayor also unveiled his Housing Resource Matchmaker, a system to link the skills and resources of Angelenos with high-capacity, mission-driven builders and service providers. For example, a landlord interested in renting to homeless veterans might be paired with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), which provides veterans with rental assistance in the private market. A church with a parking lot could be partnered with permanent supportive housing developers who have the expertise and experience to help convert the lot into permanent housing for the homeless.
“Scripture teaches that we ought be careful to entertain strangers, for in so doing we may be entertaining angels unawares,” said Bishop Clement Fugh, Presiding Prelate of the 5th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church. “At no place are these words more appropriate than when spoken in the City of Angels. Let’s be intentional and inclusive in extending hospitality."
The Days of Compassion pledge is part of Mayor Garcetti’s efforts to help City residents better understand the need for permanent supportive housing and homelessness engagement in communities throughout Los Angeles.
“The Days of Compassion initiative calls on the spirit of each person in Los Angeles to rise and expand to feel the pain of another person and to respond in a meaningful way,” said HarSimran Khalsa of Guru Ram Dass Ashram. “Those who respond will find that their own troubles diminish and their hearts grow stronger and more joyful.”
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority annual Point-in-Time Count, overall homelessness in the City of Los Angeles increased by 20% from 2016, to 34,189 people. Voters overwhelmingly passed two homelessness initiatives to help combat the crisis: Measure H will pay for services that are expected to help lift 45,000 people out of homelessness; Proposition HHH is estimated to build up to 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing over the next decade. Mayor Garcetti has also proposed an affordable housing linkage fee, which would require the developers of certain market-rate projects to include affordable housing on site or contribute to a fund that supports new affordable housing production.
“Pope Francis has said that there is no social or moral justification for homelessness in societies with so much wealth and resources. He also said that our parishes should be like field hospitals in war to respond to the needs of the broken and wounded,” said Bishop David O’Connell, Episcopal Vicar of the San Gabriel Pastoral Region. “Mayor Garcetti is calling for all of us in L.A. to live up to the calling from our faith traditions and from our humanity to end homelessness in our city.”