In the late 1980’s the original South Bay Coalition for the Homeless was formed. The South Coast Ecumenical Council (SCEC – now South Coast Interfaith Council) was the sponsor of the Coalition. It supported the Coalition by including them under the umbrella of their tax exempt status and provided them with some funding to support their budding programs. Also instrumental in the Coalition’s development and success were the staff and residents of The Gateway Clubhouse, a Didi Hirsch Mental Health program. While Didi Hirsch did not directly fund the Coalition’s programs their program staff and residents were very active in the Coalition and its activities. Some of the programs offered were an Outreach Program to the homeless in Alondra Park, a Job Center, and shelter services.
The Job Center, also sponsored by the SCEC, was sustained through funds raised from the private sector and businesses. It began by offering clothing, sack lunches, use of a phone and address for employment purposes, and transportation assistance. Demand was high and the needs much greater than the services the Center was able to provide. The Job Center then expanded to provide additional services including a shower, substance abuse counseling, psychological counseling, tutoring, job seeking skill classes, use of computers and even a transitional home for those who became employed.
The Outreach Program consisted of sack lunches distributed several times a week to a very large homeless population that resided in the park and other social services such as transportation and advocacy services to help them find needed items such as blankets, sleeping bags and hygiene items. The park also allowed the homeless to shower in their gym. A resource the Coalition developed and printed were small pocket-sized cards that could be given to homeless people with South Bay resources including all the church meals programs listed.
Coalition participants mainly included heads of churches and community based programs that served the homeless in the South Bay such as St. Margaret’s Center. They were instrumental in setting up a Cold Weather Program for the South Bay and both coordinated and ran the shelter housed in the Inglewood Armory. They arranged to have buses go to various sites to transport the homeless to and from the Armory. Meals, cots, blankets and a shower were provided. Unfortunately the shelter was open sporadically due to weather conditions and participation dropped off because of this inconsistency.
The Coalition was very active in raising awareness about large numbers of homeless who called the South Bay home through participation in many speaking engagements. In addition to raised awareness, this advocacy helped to raise funds, solicit donations and recruit volunteers. It was truly a community-based, grass roots effort. Over time, the focus of funding streams shifted, sustaining these programs became a challenge, and eventually the Coalition and its programs closed.
Since the late 1980’s the faith-based organizations have provided meals to homeless people in the South Bay community. The primary goals of the Coalition are to respond to and prevent homelessness in the South Bay. It is building a strong network to establish and expand an effective referral system for the homeless and to coordinate the efforts of many homeless service providers.
In 2015, we formally changed our name to South Bay Coalition to End Homeless to better identify with our mission. A new logo was designed under the direction of Marymount California University Professor Michael Powe with his graphic arts students.
Brief highlights beginning in 2014:
- Spearheaded "coordinated assessment systems" in SPA 8 by facilitating meetings for both the individual and family programs to build a strong regional collaborative, and early project leadership for Coordinated Entry System for individuals. Supported proposal efforts for CES that have brought tens of millions to our region as of 2017.
- Supported every Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority since 2011 to improve data collection on homelessness in SPA 8 to accurately reflect the needs of our community.
- For the 2015 Homeless Count, we were the first region in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care to ever canvass 100% of our tracts (over 4,000 road miles). We repeated this in each subsequent Count, giving us tremendous insight to our area's homeless by comparing the differences and identifying treads from 2013.
- Created city and regional-level reports from the Homeless Count 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 (note: the 2021 Unsheltered Count was cancelled because of COVID-19).
- Actively participate on LAHSA's Homeless Count Advisory Board (HCAB) since its inception in 2017.
- Held monthly Advocacy Committee Meetings that focus on pending legislation; local, state, and federal homelessness initiatives.
- Created three subregional "pocket guild" resource sheets for those experiencing homelessness and for "first contact" community stakeholders such as law enforcement, schools and libraries.
- Created a list of resources such as free meals, free groceries, free laundry services.
- Hosted several health fairs for homeless people, offering them personal connections to the service providers, haircuts, foot washing and giveaways, such as socks, backpacks and toiletries. Currently we support Harbor Interfaith Service, as our lead Coordinated Entry System agency, in these regional outreach events.
- Spoke at community meetings and organize community forums on homelessness.
- Developed training materials for volunteer organizations to help educate them on the nature of homelessness and how engage with those who are homeless.
- Participated in Redondo Beach's Homeless Task Force (2014-15); assisted with this City's Consolidated Plan revision.
- Starting in 2016 in partnership with SPA 8 CES lead agency Harbor Interfaith Services, began convening bi-monthly collaborative meetings with major South Bay Medical Centers. This effort eventually lead to LAHSA funding a Hospital Liaison position for every SPA.
- In 2017, participate in the creation of City Homelessness plans for: Inglewood, Hawthorne, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Carson.
- In 2019, partnered with Rainbow Services and Downtown Women's Center in conducting surveys of women experiencing homelessness in the City of Los Angeles neighborhoods within the South Bay.
- In 2019, assisted Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach in its joint grant application for Measure H "City Implementation" funding. Also provided inputs for Hawthorne and Inglewood's separate applications.
- In 2019, was asked to be on LA County's Homeless Initiative Office (which oversees Measure H) strategic planning "Cities" panel.
- Starting in 2019, participated in these South Bay cities Homeless Task Force: Redondo Beach, Inglewood, Hawthorne, and Carson (note: these were on extended pause during 2020-2021 because of the pandemic).
- In 2020, participated in the Faith Collaborative to End Homelessness by developing a Board of Supervisor motion to fund a consultant to do a study on how the faith community throughout the County was engaged in homelessness services.
- During 2020-21, lead an effort to create "Homelessness 101" and "201" for city staff "light touch" training. The working group included representatives from the County CEO's Homeless Initiative Office, and city and Council of Government representatives from SPA 3/San Gabriel Valley, SPA 8/South Bay, and SPA 3 & 8's CES lead service providers.
- In 2021, assisted Torrance with the creation of its Homelessness Plan. Have been supporting this City's Social Services Commission (SSC) which looks on homelessness as one of four special focus areas since the SSC inception in January 2017.
- In 2021, assisted the South Bay Cities Council of Governments in its evaluation of Measure H "Innovation Funds" project proposals.
- In 2022, supporting the City of Torrance with "Homelessness Awareness" briefings with city commissioners.
In addition to our regional work the Coalition is collaborating at the county level to participate in the community dialogue and social transformation of homeless services throughout Los Angeles County. Through this alliance, the Coalition is:
- Tracking funding sources as they become available that may apply to service delivery in the South Bay.
- Connecting with many experienced homeless service providers whose effective service delivery models can be replicated in our community.
- Accessing resources and technical assistance available leaders in their field to help us build our capacity.
- Involving non-traditional stakeholders such as cities, law enforcement, the faith community, hospitals, and others to partners.