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Housing Trust helps homeless

Juliana D. Norwood | 10/27/2010, 7:31 p.m.

Living in Los Angeles--even if you have never seen it with you own eyes, or walked down the long corridor holding you breath from the almost unbearable stench of urine--you have at least heard horror stories of the well-known downtown neighborhood called Central City East or better-known as "Skid Row."

Populated by nearly 8,000 homeless men, women and children including drug addicts and the mentally ill, Skid Row has been the target of many efforts to improve the quality of life in one of America's toughest areas and its first third-world city.

The Skid Row Housing Trust is one of the organizations driving improvement. It is a non-profit that develops, manages and operates homes for the homeless of Los Angeles and diligently works to change the unfavorable image of the Skid Row community. The Trust's permanent supportive housing also provides a complete range of services necessary to move beyond poverty, illness and addiction.

The organization provides housing for the disabled, artists, the elderly, drugs counselors, veterans, youth, transgender men and women, and the clergy working in the area. During any given year 1,500 men and women call Trust buildings home, and in excess of 80 percent of those residents stay for more than one year.

Skid Row Housing Trust was founded in 1989 to respond to the loss of residential hotels in Los Angeles by preserving and rehabilitating them and replacing dilapidated buildings with respectable homes for those most in need.

The Trust was one of the first organizations to combine permanent housing and on-site social services, to create permanent supportive housing. By providing residents with the tools needed to sustain a stable life (disabled care, drug counseling, religious services, etc.), the program strives to create an environment where people can maintain their quality of life permanently.

In addition to helping the homeless, the Trust helps the downtown community by improving the overall look of neighborhoods. So far, the non-profit has transformed nearly 25 old buildings from eye-sores into gems using innovative design ideas.

Because the Trust provides many of its services free-of-charge to its residents, donation are always welcome. Any amount donated helps, but the non-profit broke down the price ranges so individuals can see what effect their contributions have:

$100 enables a formerly homeless person to receive healthcare for a month.
$300 provides case management for two months.
$500 brings two months of substance abuse recovery groups to Trust residents.
$800 delivers six months of mental health care to a formerly homeless person.
$1,000 allows a chronically homeless person to have daily access to a nurse.
$5,000 gives a homeless person a home for a year.

For more information on the Skid Row Housing Trust, call (213) 683-0522 or visit the non-profit online at www.skidrow.org.