I’ve always said that the intent of The Last Sunday was to help the veteran artist find a home in their community of artists.
Now that The Last Sunday has joined with Mayor Garcetti’s effort to end veteran homelessness in Los Angeles, we also get to help our veterans find homes in our community.
The Mayor’s program also strikes a personal chord with me.
You see back in 2010 I was just another homeless veteran in Los Angeles.
That was probably the single most terrifying and humiliating time of my life.
I got lucky, real lucky to make my way off the street.
Not everyone is so fortunate.
We lose an estimated 22 veterans a day to suicide.
There are 22 million veterans in America today. 91% of whom are at least 35 years old. 72% are 50 years or older.
On any given night nation-wide, there are up to 254,000 vets out on the street.
Here in California, we have the highest concentration of our veteran population, or about 11%.
In L.A. County, there are about 82,000 people homeless, with nearly 20% of them being veterans.
When Mayor Garcetti first started his campaign The Homeless Veterans Fund, the City of Los Angeles had 6,529 homeless vets.
Working hand in hand with the Home for Good Initiative, a public and private partnership with over 100 members, led by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, 3,375 veterans found housing in 2014.
While that, in itself is a huge accomplishment that we all can feel good about, we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
The Mayor and the Home for Good Initiative estimate that there are as many as 3,154 vets still looking for home.
Part of the genius of the Mayors campaign is how it not only address the immediate problem of being homeless, but also offers resources to deal with the underlying causes of each vet’s homelessness. By offering access to medical/mental health and job search resources, and help navigating through the VA system, the veteran going through this program is less likely to find themselves back outdoors.
It is my most sincere hope that this program becomes the model that the rest of the nation can follow, from the smallest town to the biggest cities.
I believe that all of us, raising our voices together can make the world just a little better than it was, to improve our community, and to just maybe make the world a lot better of a place for someone else.
I hope to see y’all this Sunday.