Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles: The Dignity of Choice

By Laura J. Nelson

The second of a two-part series on the services provided by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles.

imageThe gravelly squeak of a shopping cart’s wheels against the cracked sidewalks of Skid Row pierces the hot silence of a March day in Los Angeles. In the middle of the handful of streets called the epicenter of the Los Angeles homelessness epidemic, only a handful of cars pass by, and no pedestrians.

Inside the Center for Harm Reduction a block away, it’s even quieter.

The building, next to the Los Angeles Needle Exchange, houses an array of programs designed by non-profit Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles to help the homeless cope and adjust to their new lifestyles once they’re off the streets.

“We see people on the streets at the Beverly building, we meet people coping with drug issues at the Needle Exchange, and here, we’ve progressed to people who are in the aftermath of all that turmoil,” said Delia Mojarro, the Community Assessment Service Center director for HHCLA. “We saw this program as a missing piece to all the services that we offer.”

On opening day at the end of March, almost no one came in. But in the two months since CHR’s annex opened, more than 15 people have begun working with a case manager. Once the center is in full swing, case managers predict a load of more than 100 clients.

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Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles: The Stages of Change

By Laura J. Nelson

The first of a two-part series on the services provided by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles.

imageThe clients who walk through the doors of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles share many of the same stories: homeless, jobless, struggling with addictions, estranged from family or friends who could support them through addictions and medical crises.

They’ve come on court orders or hospital referrals or their own will power, hoping one of the city’s most unique homeless support programs can give them what they need.

That raw need is what empowers the employees of HHCLA. They hope that instead of shoehorning their clients into a certain plan or program, they can help them with whatever they need. HHCLA dreams of getting rid of homelessness someday, but in a city where one in 100 residents is a transient, that won’t happen soon.

So instead, HHCLA attacks the problem of homelessness with a uniquely holistic approach called “harm reduction” — addressing the immediate needs of the homeless, whether that means medical care, education or drug treatment.

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