Webster’s defines “community” as a “unified body of individuals,” people with common social or economic interests living in a particular area. Since we launched the United to End Homelessness initiative in February 2018, we have been astounded at the thousands of people who have engaged with our work and are committed to ending chronic homelessness in a humane and dignified way.
Comprised of our community’s top business, philanthropic, governmental and non-profit leaders, this powerful coalition and its members are steadfastly committed and stand ready to tackle this historic crisis. The Leadership Council has been hard at work helping create the strategies needed to end homelessness. They have formed four working groups looking at public awareness, performance metrics, private market rental engagement and funding. We appreciate the dedication of this group, and the generosity of companies and philanthropic organizations that have made significant financial contributions to our effort, including Kaiser Permanente Orange County, Pacific Life Foundation, Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation, Tarsadia Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation to name a few.
Other key updates include the official endorsement received by the Apartment Association of Orange County’s Board of Directors, the Wells Fargo check presentation on the field at the Angels, and Magic Johnson helping us raise awareness for the initiative. There has been a great engagement with the faith community. One highlight was a meeting in South County in which over 80 faith leaders attended. The second, a meeting with the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Rt. Rev. John Taylor to discuss how we can partner together, with an outcome that we will be participating on the new Housing Justice Task Force for the Diocese of Los Angeles which covers eight counties in Southern California, including Orange County.
The strength of this initiative is also reflected in the thousands of Orange County residents who have expressed their support for this effort. More than 1,000 individuals have already signed our proclamation on homelessness, agreeing that every man, woman and child in Orange County should be treated with dignity and respect, including those experiencing homelessness, and that it takes all of us working together to end homelessness once and for all, are you in? If so, you can add your name to this increasing list of people committed to #EndHomelessnessOC.
We have been out in the community presenting on homelessness and teaching our Homelessness 101 classes. It provides a wealth of information and answers some of the most frequently asked questions about this issue, including: What is homelessness? What are the key factors that lead to homelessness and what is the current state of homelessness in Orange County? How can homelessness be solved? And who is homeless in Orange County? We are now hosting monthly classes at the United Way offices. You can register online for June 19th, July 10th, and August 14th classes.
Certainly, impressive coalitions, presentations and proclamations won’t solve this challenge by themselves – there’s an incredible amount of work to do! But we also know it can’t be done without a community passionately united in its collective goal to end homelessness.
In three short months, it’s become clear that Orange County is United to End Homelessness. Join our effort today by signing up for the newsletter, or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!