Project 50

April 7, 2009 

A groundbreaking pilot program aimed at helping Skid Row’s fifty most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals has concluded its first year with a series of encouraging results that hold promise for a dramatic expansion of the effort.

Initiated by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the Project 50 program draws upon an unprecedented collective of government and private agencies to provide permanent supportive housing, medical assistance, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and other vital services to individuals facing the greatest chance of death on the street.

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Eddie Givens, formerly known on Skid Row as "Wild, Wild West," is one of Project 50's early success stories. Pictured here before and after he was recruited into the pilot program.

Participants were identified through a massive outreach that ranked them based on their risk of mortality. The first-year results—provided during a February 4th briefing of more than 100 homeless services professionals from the public and private sectors—suggested that not only were most of the targeted individuals faring better but that the broader public was benefiting as well.

Among other things, the program preliminarily suggests that the chronically homeless are not “service-resistant” and want to move into housing and that intensive medical care and drug abuse services save tax dollars that would otherwise be spent on emergency room visits and jail.

In light of the encouraging findings, Supervisor Yaroslavsky set a goal for Project 50’s second and final year to increase the ranks of participants to 500 from throughout the county.

Here’s a Project 50 PowerPoint that provides deeper details of the program.

See news coverage here:
Steve Lopez, “Smart Spending Skid Row Program,” Los Angeles Times
Daily News, “Skid Row Residents Now in Housing”
Downtown News, “Project 50 May Grow”

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