Paramount’s efforts to Help the Homeless

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File art courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection
Tom Hansen. Courtesy photo

The Los Angeles County homeless count has been completed. The results found that Paramount has 115 homeless neighbors in 2019, a slight increase from last year’s 102.

In light of this annual undertaking, it is an appropriate time to share some of the actions the City is taking to address homelessness in our community.

This issue now touches every city and everyone in some manner. The solutions are not simple. But when we help those in need, we help ourselves and our entire community. Sympathy and compassion are central to the hard work that lies ahead.

Paramount is not alone in working on solutions to eliminate these numbers. Many neighboring cities are committed to helping individuals who find themselves living on the street or in vehicles.

The City, working with Bellflower and the non-profit organization PATH, has developed a “Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness.”

Creating the plan was a collaborative process with residents and experts, and included a public forum where those attending shared thoughts during a positive discussion.

The goals involve public education, increasing access to services, and preventing Paramount residents from becoming homeless.

Here are some ways the City is trying to help.

There is a full-time staff member who dedicates approximately 50% of their time addressing homeless issues.

Members of the Special Assignment Team and Public Safety Department, along with representatives from non-profits, talk regularly with homeless neighbors. Various forms of assistance are offered to them:

Transportation to a shelter with the assistance of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority team.

Onsite medical treatment from nurses with the Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS);

Making social services or mental health appointments.

Giving DMV vouchers to get identification cards.

Providing medical transportation vouchers to pick up prescription medications.

Service providers from HOPICS are at the Paramount Community Center quarterly to engage with anyone experiencing or nearing homelessness in Paramount.

Staff members toured the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center in Long Beach to gain information about this County facility that has walk-in clinical services and 24/7 crisis intervention support for our homeless population. The details were then supplied to Sheriff’s deputies and other city staff for them to have as a resource for residents experiencing mental health issues.

Staff members attend meetings for Service Planning Areas created by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to provide more relevant services for the specific health needs of residents.

The City recently received a $154,000 grant from the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, which was developed from the Measure H sales tax. This will fund the City’s proposed Safe Storage Program (putting storage sheds at a City-owned vacant lot for homeless individuals to use on a temporary basis), the Shelter Bed Program (reserving two beds at a nearby shelter to be used exclusively by Paramount homeless individuals), and a Rental Assistance Program.

Regarding this latter program, the grant will provide one-time monetary assistance, topping at $2,000, for Paramount residents who are past due on their rent with the goal of keeping them in their homes. The non-profit organization Kingdom Causes will administer the program as they do for Norwalk and Bellflower. Kingdom Causes will vet participants via an application process and will provide case management, credit counseling, and financial mentoring.

There are other services in the plan: increasing accessibility to hygiene resources like showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities; funding motel vouchers; forming a Paramount Homeless Coalition; encouraging local landlords to rent vacant units to people leaving homelessness; and identifying underutilized lots or buildings that could become sites of affordable housing.

The ongoing mission in Paramount is to combine resources from all outreach providers to locate, identify, and offer aid to all individuals experiencing homelessness in town. The City is doing its part to attain these objectives and help end this problem.