NONPROFIT PARTNER: PATH, People Assisting the Homeless
The Echo Park Craft Fair strives to be a partner in building a healthier community. Every year we donate a portion of our proceeds to PATH, a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities. Started in 1984 by a group of concerned community members and founders Claire Orr West and Rev. Charles Orr, PATH began its mission to end homelessness by providing food, clothes, shelter, and job training. But as homelessness grew and changed over the decades, PATH changed to meet the needs of the people it serves. Now, the organization focuses on the Housing First model which moves people off the streets, out of shelters, and into their own homes as quickly as possible. This, along with ongoing case management, has proved to be effective in helping people find and maintain housing. PATH offers a variety of services from outreach, to interim housing, case management, employment services, housing location assistance, rapid-rehousing, and permanent housing.
What a lot of people do not see, is the time it takes to build trust with people who are experiencing homelessness. It may take days, weeks, months, sometimes years for someone who has lived on the street and in shelters for decades, to feel comfortable enough that someone is truly invested in them. That’s what PATH outreach team members do – build that trust and help individuals on their journey to their own home, which may mean helping that person obtain their ID, a social security card, and even getting them the paperwork so they can receive Veteran benefits if necessary. It’s that trust that takes time, but pays off once someone is able to get the services they’ve needed for years, and the keys to their apartment.
Understanding that the best way to end homelessness is with homes, PATH Ventures is the arm of PATH that builds affordable, permanent supportive housing (PSH). While many people PATH serves move into their own apartments throughout Los Angeles County and beyond, these PSH communities provide ongoing services to help chronically homeless, or low-income individuals and families so that they have the support they need to stay housed and learn new life skills helping them become more self-sustainable.
PATH also knows that just giving someone a key to their own place is not enough to truly end homelessness. People need tools to succeed, which is where volunteers come in. Through the Welcome Home Program, and Welcome Home Kits, volunteers help move individuals and families into an apartment making sure they have all the necessities to start the new chapter of their lives out right. From furniture to towels and cooking supplies, it means the world to someone when they don’t have to wake up on an air mattress, but can wake up on a clean bed, with fresh linens, soap, towels, and a kitchen to cook in. If you are interested in learning more about PATH’s volunteer opportunities, you can check them out here.
Just since January of 2013, PATH has helped nearly 7,000 people move into their own homes. PATH’s goal is to help 10,000 people “Make It Home” by 2020. You can find out more information about PATH at www.epath.org and about their current campaign, The Making It Home campaign, which hopes to inspire change makers by not just donating, but organizing friends, family, classmates, workmates, and interest groups to raise $1,000. For every $1,000 raised, another person can Make It Home!