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United Way raises homelessness awareness with HomeWalk

Posted: November 16, 2010 4:16 p.m.
Updated: November 17, 2010 4:16 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, United Way of Greater Los Angeles hosted the fourth annual HomeWalk to end homelessness, a 5K walk commencing in Exposition Park, in downtown Los Angeles.

With nearly 50,000 homeless men and women in Los Angeles County, nearly a quarter of which are chronically homeless, United Way and its partners are working to drive community awareness and action as part of its year-round campaign to prevent and end homelessness.

Over the past three years, HomeWalk has mobilized 13,000 walkers, raised $1.3 million and moved 6,000 people into permanent housing.

"Today, thousands of Angelenos presented a united front against homelessness -- collectively saying that no one should ever have to sleep on our streets and we believe we can do something about it," said Elise Buik, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "It is crucial that our residents tell elected officials that they want this issue solved, and HomeWalk gives them that platform.

"Cities like New York, Chicago and Denver have drastically reduced their homeless populations by providing permanent housing solutions, and the funds raised during today's HomeWalk will help us continue to drive the model here in Los Angeles. Homelessness is a countywide issue, a neighborhood issue and a solvable issue. Our communities are suffering and we're going to put an end to it."

Homeless statistics in Los Angeles County:

* Nearly 50,000 (48,053) homeless people are in Los Angeles County; 7,400 are veterans
* Fourty percent of those homeless are women and children
* Nearly one-quarter of those homeless (24 percent) are chronically homeless
* Sixty-seven percent are unsheltered, living on the streets or in cars
* A college education does not guarantee a home: about a quarter of homeless people in Los Angeles have at least some college education
* One of the leading reasons for homelessness is the loss of a job
* More than half our households spend more than 30 percent of income on rent, so just one crisis can push a family into homelessness

"Our Business Leaders Task Force just launched an action plan to end chronic and veteran homeless homelessness in Los Angeles by 2016," said Buik. "Today is just a first step in that plan, and we intend to integrate isolated people back into our communities again, and give them the much-needed help they need to thrive."

Saturday's event commenced in downtown Los Angeles' Exposition Park with elected officials and thousands of participants beginning the Walk at Figueroa street. The 5K route led walkers through an educational journey starting with mobile billboards displaying the sobering facts about homelessness, true stories of previously homeless individuals, the proven solutions to end homelessness, and ways that walkers can continue their involvement.

The walk finished with a neighborhood schematic broken down by eight different regions: San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Metro Los Angeles, The Westside, South Los Angeles, The Eastside/Southeast LA, and The South Bay/Harbor region. Participants can commit to helping to end homelessness in five years and make change in their own backyards, becoming YIMBYs (Yes, In My BackYard) rather than NIMBYs (Not In My BackYard).

The county-wide epidemic of homelessness is one of United Way's core priorities to create pathways out of poverty. HomeWalk is part of United Way's pledge to raise the public awareness and fund solutions to end homelessness.

About United Way of Greater Los Angeles
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by focusing on meeting basic needs, improving educational achievement and increasing financial stability for the most vulnerable in our community. Through its research work, United Way identifies the issues and works in partnership with community leaders and supporters to solve them by funding targeted programs and advocating for change.


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