Social Model Recovery Systems (SMRS), convened a listening session with House Majority Whip James Clyburn and Congresswoman Karen Bass as well as City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson to hear from former and current people experiencing homelessness (PEH).
Congressmember Clyburn is the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives and the highest-ranking African American in Congress. The listening session emphasized the racial disparities of PEH that exist not only in Skid Row but in California — where black people are vastly overrepresented. In 2019, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that the majority (71%) of people experiencing houselessness resulted from unaffordable/unavailable housing and severe poverty.
The findings also showed that 29% of PEH were houseless as a result of substance abuse, mental illness, or a combination of both. The group discussed the need for increased pay and housing stock as well as culturally responsive substance abuse and mental health services.
The group also discussed the staggering overdose deaths among PEH and the need for complementary strategies to harm reduction services. SMRS’ CEO, Bruce Boardman, shared his plight and insight working in the human services field.
Congresswoman Bass agreed with the group and spoke about the importance of increasing the length of treatment time from 30 days to a year under the Affordable Care Act. This educational meeting may help increase funding to help combat homelessness and increase treatment services.