by Amelia Anderson
In my July 7th Column, I asked, “Is the CES the same as an S.O.S?” “No,” said Tommy Newman, Director of Community Affairs at LA Family Housing, “but it’s the answer to an S.O.S.!” For our Millennials who may not grasp life prior to texting, an S.O.S. is an internationally recognized signal of a sonic alphabet composed of three dots (shorts) and three dashes (longs), invented by Mr. Samuel Morse in 1843 to use in radio telegraphy as a call for help in distress.
I always associated an S.O.S. with a boat in trouble at sea. But if you substitute people in trouble on the sea of life, you’ll understand why the CES is the answer to an S.O.S. The Coordinated Entry System (CES) is the new Los Angeles computer system that connects people experiencing homelessness countywide to resources optimal for their needs. Social workers are the captains of this system. They’re sort of a societal fourth dimension to the space-time continuum of firemen, police and doctor-nurses but without the uniform. As a Homeless Advocate, when I call to engage their help with a problem on the street, they want the latitude and longitude to map the quickest way to get there, ie, a GPS; no matter if it’s alcohol or drugs or both…. they just want the facts, Ma’am, as they bolt out the door clutching a CES form in hand. And, “Oh, by the way, do any of these folks want help?”
It’s easier to tilt the boat back up than if it tips over and takes on water. What is CES? For those out of control or seeking help from the vicissitudes of life, all one has to do is answer questions about physical health, mental health and how long one’s lived on the street. To be considered for supportive services, an individual’s interview information gathered on a CES questionnaire provides a social history birth certificate used as a main tool by social workers to navigate the vast health care system to connect with appropriate services, including housing. It’s not first come, first served. The computer assigns a number for greatest risk to select for housing now; but applications remain in the pool and can be pulled up later to fill a vacancy. Besides, situations change, and a yearly update may be in order.
To connect with coordination, call the Homeless Outreach Team. Individuals/ 818.255.2703. Families/ 818.255.2766. or Youth Services; TAY Drop-In Center/ 818.755.8786. Outreach/ 818-270.0106. How does the CES work? For those too shy to call, Outreach Teams canvass streets, parks and cars, meeting people in their own community and using local volunteer advocates along with the Hope Police to identify and build relationship based on trust. Information is gathered using a CES form for use as a standard evaluation tool, then entered into a shared data base and connected to the most appropriate intervention and supportive services. If they qualify for our “Housing First” program, then a Navigator is assigned to locate permanent housing, a social worker supports the new tenant and the landlord to ensure the tenant is successful in their new housing. Who runs the CES? You’ve probably heard of LA family Housing. They are a charitable organization functioning as a Steering Committee for the San Fernando Santa Clarita Valley Coordinated Entry System permanent allocation of funds from within our area of Spa 2 (Service Providers), a city of two million people within itself, but just one of eight areas designated by our county. In turn, they partner with service hubs that provide Medical Support, Mental Health, Domestic Violence Support, Education Services, Food Pantries, and Housing Providers for the Homeless like Oliveview Hospital, Hillview Mental Services, Bridge to Home, Ascencia, Tarzana Treatment Center and Spa 2 Transition Age Youth League.
How can you help? Spread the word! Get folks onboard to tack for multiple destinations. Volunteer, interview. keep identification current and a phone by your side.
Visit Eric Montoya, Outreach Director, at LAFH in City Hall Tuesday mornings 9:30 to 11:30 am. Call Amelia at: 818.478.9031. Call Pattee Colvin and ask to donate to Making It Happen, Inc., her 501C3.. 818.398-6232. P.O.Box 4372, Sunland, 91041. pattee colvin@ makingithappeninc.org.