Stories from Formerly Homeless at Ebell This Evening

Emily Martiniak, featured on the cover of today’s LA Times, will be one of the speakers at tonight’s Stories from the Frontline: Ending Homelessness Through Supportive Housing at the Ebell at 6:30 pm.

Homelessness is one of the most challenging issues facing our city, and never before has the city had so many resources to address the problem, asserts the Los Angeles Times in a very powerful editorial in today’s newspaper.   The Times warns against “NIMBYs — or weak-kneed politicians” standing in the way of building homeless housing.

“Never in this city has so much money been available for housing the homeless. Yet the hard part is just beginning. Despite the overwhelming support for Proposition HHH, virtually everyone involved in the process now agrees that fierce NIMBY resistance to homeless housing in some communities and the lack of political will by elected officials in the face of that resistance are the biggest potential impediments to the rollout of housing on the scale and timeline needed to stem the increase in homelessness. There are more than 34,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles,” wrote the Times Editorial Board.

The Times editorial  board points out, “Homeless housing is not be imposed on communities thoughtlessly or arbitrarily. When a potential HHH project is proposed, developers must get neighbors’ input — that is mandated by the city.” And success stories result when residents are brought into the process.

Tonight’s program at Ebell was inspired by local philanthropist Marilyn Wells, after she heard a formerly homeless woman named Emily Martiniak speak about her struggle and ultimate path to her own home, aided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)

After hearing Martiniak speak, Wells explained to the Buzz, “I thought to myself, I would welcome her into my neighborhood;  maybe others would feel the same way too if they could hear these stories.”

Martiniak is featured on the front page of the Times and will be speaking at the Ebell this evening, along with several other formerly homeless people sharing their stories of recovery in a supportive housing program. While these programs are recognized as one of the most successful ways to help people become housing stable, most experts agree that one of the obstacles to building more supportive housing developments in Los Angeles comes from local opposition.

Wells and her friend Allison Schallert, a Larchmont Village resident, hosted a meeting of local leaders at Wells’ home several months ago, where Martiniak spoke. The results was transformational for the those who had never “met” a formerly homeless person. Inspired, the group, including Windsor Village resident Jill Bauman, founder of Imagine LA, a non-profit dedicated to ending the cycle of family homelessness and chronic poverty through mentoring and social services, has come together to present this evening’s storytelling event.  Los Angeles’ First Lady, Amy Elaine Wakeland, will be an honorary speaker, and former foster youth will sing and perform spoken word poetry as part of the program.

Wells hopes that people who are compassionate about the homelessness crisis will come to the event tonight to meet the people who have been homeless and faceless to the rest of us…and that the audience will be inspired to find a place for these people in our neighborhoods.

Stories from the Frontline: Ending Homelessness through Supportive Housing
The Ebell of Los Angeles
741 South Lucerne Blvd.
Reception at 6:30 p.m., Program at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets $20, $10 with student I.D.,
Food and drinks (no host bar) will be served.
ebelleventtickets.com, (323) 931-1277, x 131

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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