Health, Housing + Justice, the first in a series of conversations hosted by Venice Family Clinic in honor of its 50th anniversary, featured a thought-provoking conversation on the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.
Three powerhouse leaders – Elizabeth Benson Forer of Venice Family Clinic, John Maceri of The People Concern, and Chancela Al-Mansour of Housing Rights Center – explored the different factors contributing to homelessness in Los Angeles County, the systemic challenges for Black and Latinx communities and what we need to do as individuals and collectively to end this crisis. Carla Hall of the Los Angeles Times moderated the timely discussion that included actionable ideas.
In case you missed it or would like to see this panel again, you can view a recording of the discussion below.
Elizabeth Benson Forer’s visionary leadership as CEO and executive director has been integral to Venice Family Clinic’s growth. She joined the Clinic in 1994, when it served 10,000 patients annually at one location. Today, the Clinic serves over 27,000 patients at 12 locations. During her more than two decades at Venice Family Clinic, Forer has guided the creation of new clinical programs and a robust network of over 200 community partnerships.
She has held numerous positions on boards, including the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, the California Primary Care Association and the National Association of Free Clinics. In 2016, the Durfee Foundation recognized her as an outstanding leader and granted a three-month sabbatical to advance leadership skills. She was also a California HealthCare Foundation Health Leadership Fellow. Through these organizations and her direct advocacy work, she is involved at all levels of government to develop legislation and policy initiatives to help low-income and homeless people access health care.
Prior to joining the Clinic, she served as executive director of Settlement Health and Medical Services, a nonprofit community health center in East Harlem, New York, and directed a department at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, where her mission was to make the hospital more accessible to local residents. She holds masters’ degrees in social work and public health from Columbia University.
Chancela Al-Mansour, executive director, joined Housing Rights Center in November of 2010 after having been actively involved in fair housing advocacy for 18 years. For 16 years, Al-Mansour worked at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County as a Directing Attorney, Supervising and Staff Attorney in the housing unit. She supervised the HPRP (homeless prevention) work with L.A. City and L.A. County and she litigated hundreds of cases involving landlord-tenant, housing element, mortgage fraud and fair housing laws. Al-Mansour has extensive experience litigating fair housing cases involving familial status, disability and race, producing training and resource materials, and training attorneys in state and federal fair housing law. In private practice, she and her law partner filed the landmark Roommates.com case, and litigated cases involving predatory lending and fraudulent mortgage broker practices. She was also an attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty. She served as President of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California. Al-Mansour graduated from Vassar College and University of California at Davis School of Law.
John Maceri is the chief executive officer of The People Concern, formed in 2016 in a merger of two trusted social service organizations, OPCC and Lamp Community, and is one of the largest agencies of its kind in Los Angeles County. With more than fifty six years of work in the community, The People Concern is a leading provider of, and advocate for, evidence based solutions to the multi-faceted challenges inherent in homelessness and domestic violence. With compassion and profound respect for those we serve, we provide a comprehensive and fully integrated system of care, including housing, mental health care, primary medical care and domestic violence services. The agency has an annual operating budget of $50 million, employees a staff of over 500, has an active volunteer corps of 700 and serves over 6,000 individuals and families a year.
In addition to his work with the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council where he currently serves as Board Chair, he also serves on the board of NoHo Home Alliance, a small non-profit serving homeless individuals and immigrants in the North Hollywood area of the San Fernando Valley. He previously served on the board of the Business Alliance of Los Angeles (formerly the Valley Business Alliance) as a member, Vice President and two-term President. He is a Past Chair of the Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition, and also served as a member of the Board of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. John is also a past Vice President of the Board of North Valley Caring Services, a nonprofit that provides services to low- income children and families in the northeast San Fernando Valley, and is a former member of the governing board of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, a national funder of agencies providing services to children and their families infected and affected by HIV & AIDS.
Carla Hall, editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, is an editorial board member who writes about homelessness, reproductive rights, popular culture, animal welfare, and human rights in Asia and Africa, among other topics. Before joining the board, she was a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ California section. She previously worked for the Washington Post’s Style section, where she juggled writing with acting roles in small theaters and even a couple of TV shows. She has a bachelor’s degree in the history of science from Harvard University.
This event is free to attend. If you’d like to support the work of these three organizations, click below and all donations will be split equally between Venice Family Clinic, The People Concern and the Housing Rights Center.
Thank you for caring about how to help our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness and joining us as a partner to fight this epidemic.