By Arlene Washington, The Hollywood Reporter
At the L.A. Family Housing Awards (LAFH), Hollywood learned that there’s more to homelessness than what you see on the side of the street. Industry agents, actors and executives gathered at The Lot on Thursday evening for a reception to honor WME | IMG president of business affairs Karen Brodkin while raising money to put roofs over the heads of those in need.
Guests including About a Boy’s David Walton and Corbin Bleu sampled spicy tuna cones, grilled lamb chops and burrata with caviar from some of LA’s hottest restaurants including Angelini Osteria, Kali Dining and Alma Restaurant. A silent and live auction took place to raise funds towards LAFH services in providing temporary/permanent housing and the necessary services for families.
One of the most shocking facts that attendees learned during the evening was that being homeless doesn’t always mean living on the side of the freeway. Niecy Nash, who will star in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming Scream Queens, admitted her former assistant was homeless.
“She was referred to me through someone and I didn’t know she was homeless at the time,” Nash told reporters. “She was living out of her car at the time and I didn’t know it.”
Nash said that it was her maternal instinct that made her sense that something was going on with her assistant.
“I was like in order to help me become stable we need to get you stable so let’s focus on that and then we can get to what I need,” added Nash. “We were able to get her on her feet and out of the car and into a nice place to live.“
Host Jeremy Sisto (The Returned) was on the hunt for an organization to commit to when he discovered L.A. Family Housing.
“I help kids with their homework, I cook, I’m doing training for outreach,” Sisto told reporters. “It’s been a fascinating experience and I’ve really been very inspired by the people.”
Residents of the LAFH initiative were also present to share how the organization has helped them start a new life. Couple Maya and Justin were working as a caterer and in Pepsi merchandising, respectively, when a tragic car accident left them with $250,000 in medical bills. The couple and their two young boys found themselves out of their home living day to day in hotels and cars until they received their own space with a locked door from L.A. Family Housing.
The family took to the stage to present Brodkin with her honor for her dedication to the organization through WME | IMG. Brodkin recounted how visiting the LAFH establishment has opened her eyes to realize that family homelessness is a more serious issue than it’s perceived, since it puts a significant amount of youth at a disadvantage.
“The homeless population that we see on the news or exiting a freeway is not telling the complete story of homelessness,” said Brodkin. “There are multiple stories like the ones we’re hearing tonight. Stories we don’t hear enough because family homelessness is often hidden.”
The event raised more than $900,000 for support services to help the homeless get back on their feet.
Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, LA Family Housing has been able to hire an outreach worker to assess chronically homeless individuals and place them into permanent supportive housing. This funding enables us to increase our impact within the community and serve more people on the journey out of homelessness.
LA Family Housing meets people where they are: whether it’s figuratively in their unique situations, or literally, on streets, rural communities, or park encampments. Wherever potential clients may reside, our outreach workers connect chronically homeless individuals to the social services and support they need to end the cycle of homelessness. The outreach worker analyzes a client’s needs, reviews and assists with documents, and recommends appropriate resources that will help clients regain stability.
Throughout the year, LA Family Housing plans to assess more than 400 chronically homeless individuals and place 229 of those individuals into permanent supportive housing!
Our LAFH family gathered on Thursday, April 25, at the Book Bindery in Culver City to honor Tai Collins and Evan DeHaven, celebrate the success we’ve had in moving families home this year, and raise a record-breaking $900,000 to help end homelessness in Los Angeles. Industry insiders, business and community leaders, celebrities, and service partners were among the 550 guests in attendance who feasted on dinner by the bites from renowned LA restaurants Akasha, Angelini Osteria, The Fat Cow and RivaBella, among nine others.
The night was hosted by comedian Ben Gleib, who’s strategy was simple: “I basically plan on shaming people into giving up their money.” His work was made easy during the live auction when a puppy from SavingSpot!, along with customized dog house by architect Scott Mitchell, was sold for a whopping $8,000.
Blair Rich, Event Co-Chair and Executive VP of Marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures, closed the evening with a reminder of why we gathered: “There is no reason that children should be homeless in Los Angeles. So many of you support us year after year. You are committed. And with that commitment, we are changing people’s lives and giving kids the chance they really deserve. Thank you for making tonight such a huge success!”
Pictured from L to R: President & CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, Event Co-Chair Blair Rich, Honoree Tai Collins, Event Co-Chairs Deborah and Matthew Irmas, Audrey Irmas.
Big Sunday is an organization that builds community through community service and has organized Angelenos to give back to nonprofits across the city for more than a decade. Each year on the first Sunday in May, 50 volunteers select LA Family Housing as their designated site and provide our 660 shelter residents at three different properties with a generous giving spirit and fun-filled activities, including barbeques, carnivals, live music, bingo, and ice cream socials. This year, kids especially enjoyed clowning around with a face-painted jester and prepping our community garden for a summer of growth. A BIG thanks to our Big Sunday volunteers!
The 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count was conducted over three nights in January to tally the number of homeless families and individuals living across all 4,000 square miles of Los Angeles County. More than 5,000 volunteers participated, including 500 from our LAFH community, in this biennial effort to assess the magnitude of homelessness in our neighborhoods. These volunteers canvassed each of the county’s census tracts with a flashlight and clipboard to ensure every person living on the streets, in cars, tents, and other vehicles was counted.
The last count in 2011 showed 51,340 people without a home in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which led the countywide effort, will release the 2013 report this summer.
Hundreds of LAFH volunteers organized in December to bring some holiday cheer to our shelter residents and apartment tenants, throwing holiday parties across the agency’s 22 properties, joining Santa to distribute gifts to families, and bringing smiles to our kids’ faces during this season of giving.
A special thanks to Alhambra Nissan, Angel City Choir, Ant Farm, Burbank Noon Lions Club, David & Goliath, the Doyle Family, Greystone Management Group, Hasbro Inc., IPC-The Hospitalist Co., Kasier Permanente, LA Hydro Jet, Project Gratitude, the Taub Family, US Bank and the Brander Family, Warner Bros., and Batman.
LAFH kicked off 2013 with the groundbreaking of our second permanent supportive housing property, Day Street Apartments. Day Street will provide 46 new units in Sunland-Tujunga for formerly homeless and low-income individuals, with on-site services targeted to veterans and those living with a mental illness.
More than one hundred community members, advocates, public officials and LAFH supporters gathered on a brisk January morning to celebrate the permanent solutions that Day Street will provide for our community’s most vulnerable. Councilmember Richard Alarcon, whose own son suffers from a mental illness and experienced homelessness, vowed to continue fighting to end homelessness in Los Angeles with more projects like Day Street.
Day Street Apartments will open in early 2014.
On April 19, LAFH held its 13th Annual Awards at The Lot in West Hollywood, where we honored Hasbro, Inc. and Betty and Ross Winn for the pivotal roles they play in L.A. Family Housing’s success.
With Ben Gleib performing MC duties and DJ88 spinning the tunes, the evening was a spectacular success, helping us raise much needed funds to continue moving more than 500 families home this year.
A highlight of the evening was when ten-year-old Izaiah Miranda shared his family story with the audience about how LAFH helped lead him and his mother Annette on a path to self-sufficiency and housing stability following many years of homelessness.
Congratulations to all of our honorees, and thanks to everyone who made the night a memorable one.
Palo Verde Opens! L.A. Family Housing celebrated the Grand Opening of our first permanent supportive housing development on January 20, 2012. Palo Verde provides 60 studio apartments for formerly homeless and very low income adults, many of whom live with mental illness. In a beautifully designed, LEED certified sustainable building, residents benefit from on-site services including mental health counseling, case management, recovery support, and employment assistance.
On December 20, 2012, Laemmle NoHo 7 held a grand opening benefit screening of The Iron Lady, with proceeds going to L.A. Family Housing. The Laemmle Charitable Foundation, led by Greg Laemmle, presented a check for $10,000. We thank our new neighbors!
Partners Trust sponsored our third annual Harvest Festival on October 30th, 2011, where more than 250 homeless children enjoyed fall-themed and Halloween activities, including pony rides, pumpkin patch, arts and crafts, face painting, and family portraits.
Thank you to our Partners Trust volunteers!
On September 12, 2011, close to a hundred players joined L.A. Family Housing for 18 holes of golf at beautiful MountainGate Country Club, raising more than $50,000 to help families move out of homelessness. A great success for our first effort on the links!
We especially would like to thank our tournament sponsors - The John W. Carson Foundation, Hoffman Brown Company, Miller Kaplan Arase & Co., NBCUniversal, the Samuel and Helene Soref Foundation, Alhambra Nissan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and the Winn family.