It may seem like the only news these days is bad news.
Feel-good stories in the newspaper or on the nightly news are few and far between.
It’s all doom and gloom or predictions of doom and gloom.
All that darkness on display 24 hours a day and seven days a week can’t be good for the soul or one’s mental health.
What we need for balance is some light at the end of the tunnel or, at the very least, some rays of hope to peak through the clouds.
It’s out there, you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. You need to read beyond the headlines and take a closer look at the back page of the newspaper or the third page of search engine results.
That’s where you’ll find a story like I did recently about something called the Chandler Street Village and some excellent Americans - North Hollywood City Councilor Paul Kerkorian and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission– who are making a real difference.
Together with other city and county officials from Los Angeles, Calif., they have planned, created, and opened a new type of shelter for those who may have found themselves without a roof or a place to call home.
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, a 2020 tally found there were 66,400 homeless people in Los Angeles County — up more than 12% from the previous year. The data suggests that the increase is a result of the COVID pandemic, which for various economic reasons, has forced many people onto the streets.
It’s not just a California issue, of course. Similar statistics can be seen in major cities across the United States and because of the pandemic and the rules imposed to slow the spread, homeless shelters have been forced to cut capacity to maintain social distancing.
In Los Angeles, advocates for the homeless saw what was happening and demanded officials act quickly to remedy the situation as best they could. So the city and county began looking for creative, affordable solutions to get people out of the tents that line sidewalks near downtown and under freeway overpasses in suburban areas.
What they came up with is Chandler Street village, which features 39 prefab units on a one-acre plot in a North Hollywood neighborhood. They are basically tiny houses that are now managed by Hope of the Valley officials. They feature four windows, two beds, shelving and an A/C unit. There is also a shared community space that features picnic tables.
The popularity of tiny house has been growing in America for a while. People looking to downsize are increasingly turning to these micro versions of a traditional home. And lately they have increasingly been used as shelter for homeless people in other California cities, including San Jose and Sacramento, as well as nationally in Seattle, Minneapolis and Des Moines, Iowa.
The L.A. units cost about $7,500 each to produce, including labor and materials, and were shipped as ready-to-assemble stacks of panels from builder Pallet Shelter in Everett, Washington.
The total cost of the project was about $5 million, according to Kerkorian’s office, with the majority spent on re-routing water, power, and sewer lines to the site. Hope of the Valley, which was founded in the summer of 2009, receives $55 per person daily reimbursement from the city to cover three meals and social services for residents.
The rescue mission, which operates nine Shelters, two access centers and a job center, currently provides about 506 beds per night at various shelters throughout the San Fernando Valley housing single adults, families and transitional age youth.
According to information on their web site they serve approximately 1,500 meals per day and 547,500 meals annually.
In 2020, Hope of the Valley responded to the homeless crisis by opening a Navigation Center, a Job Center, an 85-bed Bridge Housing Shelter and a 100-bed Bridge Housing Shelter in partnership with the City of Los Angeles. Additionally, as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak, we opened 6 Covid-19 shelters within Los Angeles City and Park Recreation Centers along with 36 housing trailers.
In 2021, officials hope to expand even more.
Good people doing good things when things feel at their worst.
That’s the kind of story I want to read when I open my morning newspaper. I’m tired of the negative, the repetitive and the redundant.
Give me a glimpse into the real world – into the people and places that make this country great and the stories that highlight our compassion and caring ways and promote our sense of family, community and solidarity as Americans.
Despite what you may read on a daily basis or see on your television, the country isn’t as divided as the media would have you believe.
I choose to believe that many more people get a long then don’t regardless of sex, race, religion or political affiliation.
Most of us understand we are all just human beings. We don’t need labels to define us. We don’t need government to tell us what to believe. And we certainly don’t subscribe to the notion that we are living through a dark winter with no hope in sight.