Coordinated Homeless Outreach: A Q&A with The People Concern

Q&A with Tali Poran, The People Concern

A critical addition to the landscape of homeless services is a new "E6" multi-disciplinary outreach team in Downtown LA. The new team is modeled off of the C3 teams that are currently deployed in Skid Row and has placed nearly 300 people in permanent supportive housing in the past year and a half. To learn more about the team, its role in Downtown, and its measures of success, we talked with Tali Poran from The People Concern - the lead agency overseeing Downtown's new outreach team.

GDT: First off, what is The People Concern and what is its organizational role in addressing homelessness?

TP: The People Concern empowers the most vulnerable among us to rebuild their lives. As one of Los Angeles County’s largest social services agencies, we provide a fully integrated system of care – including mental and medical health care, substance abuse services, and permanent supportive housing – tailored to the unique needs of homeless individuals, survivors of domestic violence, challenged youth and others who have nowhere else to turn. The People Concern serves as a hub for integrated care, bringing together the many different services needed to move our participants away from vulnerable situations and off the streets – from supportive housing to psychological services, from medical care to case management, from substance abuse treatment to social support. This not only significantly improves participants’ lives; it makes most efficient use of limited resources and saves money for the community. Our work is rooted in the principle of housing first. We stabilize those we serve in permanent housing as quickly as possible and connect them to the range of resources necessary to sustain that housing. 

GDT: Why are we now seeing more teams come to fruition? And what does E6 actually mean?  

TP: Prior to Measure H being approved by the voters, the County CEO began a homeless initiative using 1 time County monies.  This effort resulted in 47 recommendations of which E6 related to developing a coordinated outreach system in LA County.  E6 is the recommendation letter/number.  With these funds, we were able to implement outreach coordination, centralized reporting system for the public to report encampments, additional LAHSA ERT and to add 16 new multidisciplinary teams through the County.  Then Measure H allowed us to increase these resources and we are increasing to 20 new teams over the next 9 months for a total of 36 teams.
GDT: What do you see as the key difference between this approach and other homeless outreach efforts?  

TP: It is coordinated. It provides for substantially more boots on the ground, coordinated oversight of all outreach efforts within SPAs, multidisciplinary teams, web-based platform for reporting homeless.  In addition, Measure H funded substantially more interim/bridge housing, permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing which will be available to the outreach efforts……so we can now provide a solution to their homelessness.
GDT: The People Concern also oversees the C3 teams in Skid Row. Are there good lessons learned or successes from those teams that will be used at this new Downtown team?  

TP: Because the C3 Skid Row teams had such substantially great outcomes, C3 was the model used to establish the multidisciplinary teams under E6.
GDT: Building trust with people experiencing homelessness is clearly key. But with only one team responsible for engaging all of Downtown, what is the team's plan for being able to build up that trust and accountability?

TP: Currently, there are five teams in Downtown - 4 in Skid Row (C3) and one for the rest of Downtown. Through Measure H, DHS funded us for at least one more team in downtown. This will allow each team to have a smaller geographic area allowing for more relationship building.

 A new multi-disciplinary outreach team has been added to support people experiencing homelessness not just in Skid Row but throughout Downtown LA (photo via NYTimes)

A new multi-disciplinary outreach team has been added to support people experiencing homelessness not just in Skid Row but throughout Downtown LA
(photo via NYTimes)