Lamp Community is beacon of light for the homeless
Nonprofit provides permanent housing and vital services
Juliana Norwood | 6/27/2013, midnight
The Lamp Community, a nonprofit housing facility, helps people living with severe mental illness move from streets to homes. Lamp offers immediate access to affordable, safe and permanent housing without requiring sobriety or participation in treatment. Once settled in their home, new tenants are surrounded with customized services such as mental health treatment, drug recovery, healthcare, budgeting, visual and performing arts, job opportunities, and other supports to help them achieve their goals and become a part of their community.
Most of the people Lamp serves face additional challenges such as drug/alcohol addiction, physical disabilities, HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, and a history of incarceration. The centerpiece of the organization’s work is based on the idea that supportive housing is recognized as the best strategy for permanently ending homelessness among people with severe disabilities.
Lamp was the first agency in Los Angeles to provide permanent supportive housing and remains one of only a few agencies that house and serve the chronically homeless—people with severe disabilities who have been on the streets, cycling through institutions, shelters, and jails for years.
Many of the units are in buildings owned and operated by Lamp Community or by partner affordable housing developers. These apartment complexes designed to accommodate on-site services, giving tenants access to a therapist, a nurse, and a psychiatrist right there where they live. The Lamp Community service team also includes advocates who work closely with tenants to help them achieve their goals such as obtaining disability benefits and health insurance, enrolling in school, re-uniting with family, overcoming legal barriers, and even cooking and decorating their new apartment.
Lamp also leases affordable units in complexes owned and operated by private landlords. This scattered site model uses existing housing to quickly move people from streets to homes. It gives tenants greater choice in neighborhood and allows them to live among individuals and families from all walks of life while receiving rental subsidies and home- and community-based services. Due to a scarcity of permanent rental subsidies, Lamp also identifies and helps people move into affordable unsubsidized apartments and offer ongoing services.
Lamp Community is one of the only local agencies to finance the security deposit and first month’s rent for people moving into apartments owned by partner agencies and private landlords. This critical stipend ensures that chronically homeless people are not turned away due to lack of move-in costs.
Based in the Skid Row community, Lamp’s Frank Rice Safe Haven offers semi-private accommodations in a community setting. Unlike shelters and transitional housing, people can live at these locations short-term or permanently. With one staff person to every nine residents, people have access to an unprecedented scope of individualized services under one roof. The center serves more than 150 people each day, offering to engage and house people who have been rejected by mainstream providers due to behaviors, addictions, and severity of mental illness.
The Lamp Community’s 3rd Annual Fall Affair will be held on Oct. 24. Each year, Lamp hosts an evening of recognition and celebration in downtown Los Angeles. The Fall Affair salutes the accomplishments and successes of agency clients as they transition from life on the streets to well-being, stability, housing, and self-care. Through a combination of awards, music, arts, food and drinks, the event showcases the agency’s comprehensive programs designed to end homelessness. Proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and event donations benefit Lamp’s programs.
To buy tickets for the event, or for more information on the Lamp Community, visit www.lampcommunity.org.