In Long Beach, a survey in July allowed outreach workers to identify elderly and disabled people who qualified for federal cash assistance, said Roberts of Path Partners. Others surveyed turned out to be eligible for housing vouchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. So far, 52 people have been placed in housing, with local churches donating furniture and government agencies and nonprofits managing their cases and treatment.
The programs are aimed at people who have lived on the streets for at least six months, many of whom suffer from mental and physical issues, including alcohol and drug abuse.
Previously, homeless people were usually required to get sober before they would be offered permanent housing. But experts on the homeless are finding that it is easier to resolve addictions and other issues that land people on the streets when they have a stable place to sleep and keep their medication.
On the streets of Hollywood last month, volunteers counted 323 homeless people and 257 of them agreed to be interviewed. The results were released at a community meeting April 30. More than 40% reported health conditions associated with a high mortality risk, such as HIV or cirrhosis of the liver. The oldest was 80, the youngest 15.