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A Vision of Empowerment & an 'Exit from Homelessness' for L.A. Families

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Jill Govan Bauman of Imagine LA
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by Sasha Mann, Special to LAist

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times claims that the rate of homelessness in L.A. County has dropped 38% since 2007. Despite the somewhat promising numbers, Los Angeles continues to sustain the largest homeless population in the United States, along with the unfortunate status as “homelessness capital” of the country.

In the face of this dire situation stands a robust little warrior, the two-year-old non-profit organization Imagine LA, whose central idea is to match each of the 8,000 homeless families in Los Angeles with one of its 8,000 faith communities. So far the model really works and has provided many homeless families with the resources and skills necessary to achieve long-term housing, a sustainable income, and lasting independence over a two-year period. President and CEO Jill Govan Bauman tallked to LAist about Imagine LA’s mission, approach and process with regard to the problem of homelessness.

LAist: When and how did you get started working at Imagine LA?

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Jill Govan Bauman: I was originally on the board of directors, and at the time it was pretty brand new. It had been in existence for maybe a year and it was mostly an idea at that point, and a really powerful idea, which is that there are 8,000 homeless families and over 8,000 faith communities of any kind - you know, churches, synagogues, mosques. If we could just match one family with one faith community in such a way that that family really exited homelessness and the kids really thrived, we might really have something… We might have a solution.