September 8, 2022
NEW L.A. COUNTY HOMELESS COUNT PROMPTS VENICE FAMILY CLINIC CEO TO CALL FOR LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS TO HELP PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
Elizabeth Benson Forer says End of COVID-19 Programs Likely to Force More People out of Housing
LOS ANGELES – (September 8, 2022) – Elizabeth Benson Forer, CEO of Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center that provides health care to people experiencing homelessness, called for long-term solutions to homelessness in response to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count that was announced today.
The Homeless Count estimated that 69,144 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County, an increase of 4.1% since 2020. Concerns about COVID-19 prevented a survey in 2021. L.A. County Homeless Services Agency noted that the 2022 Homeless Count found a smaller increase in the estimated number of people experiencing homeless than had been found in other counts in recent years. Following is Ms. Forer’s statement:
“While this year’s Homeless Count showed smaller increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness than in recent years, the ending of COVID-19 programs, like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey, are likely to push more people out of housing and into the streets in the year ahead.
“We call on all our region’s leaders to develop long-term solutions, including permanent supportive housing, that will ensure stability and increase the likelihood of success in addressing homelessness. While shelters provide temporary housing, they are not a long-term solution. We must also work together to prevent people from losing their homes and ensure people experiencing homelessness get the health care and other services they need to stay housed.
“The Homeless Count found 39% of the people experiencing homelessness suffered from serious mental illness or substance use. People experiencing homelessness are 35 times more likely to overdose than people who are housed, highlighting the importance of stable housing for people’s mental health.
“Venice Family Clinic has had success and developed best practices for addressing the substance use and mental health care needs of people experiencing homelessness and is continuing to explore new ways in which we can integrate behavioral health and substance use treatment in our health care delivery.”
Venice Family Clinic was the first community health center in L.A. County to send health care providers into the streets to provide care to people experiencing homelessness where they are. From this start in 1985, the Clinic created a robust street medicine program that has grown to nine teams with eleven health care providers. Medical residents, students and other health care providers often join the Clinic’s teams to learn how to provide care to people experiencing homelessness.
Venice Family Clinic’s leadership in homeless health care led the United Way of Greater Los Angeles to provide the funding to develop the Street Medicine Curriculum, a detailed training guide designed to inspire and educate the next generation of homeless health care providers. The curriculum provides students and practitioners with clinical and social tools to address the complex challenges people experiencing homelessness face. The grant also provided funding to build a structure for training students and medical residents.
About Venice Family Clinic
Venice Family Clinic is a nonprofit community health center that is a leader in providing comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to 45,000 people in need annually, regardless of their income, insurance or immigration status. Having recently merged with South Bay Family Health Care, the Clinic now serves an area from the Santa Monica Mountains through the South Bay in Los Angeles County. The Clinic has 17 sites located in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood, Culver City, Redondo Beach, Carson, Gardena and Hawthorne, plus two mobile clinics. Its comprehensive care includes mental health services, dental care, street medicine for people experiencing homelessness, vision services, substance use treatment, prescription medications, domestic violence counseling, HIV services, healthy food distributions, health education, health insurance enrollment, child development services and more. For more information, please visit VeniceFamilyClinic.org and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.