LA’s unhoused crisis is making national headlines and SEIU 721 members, like Michael Williams, Steven Elias, and Lisa Pacheco are on the frontlines.
The county’s unhoused population — which rose by 13% to 66,436 people in 2020 — has exploded since the pandemic. But despite the pandemic risks, our Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) members are in the field connecting with the unhoused to find them housing and shelter, and other service they can provide, including meals.
For these members, their work takes them to diverse urban landscapes, city streets, underpasses, and ravines and riverbeds. Their work is transformative and driven by a compassion for the least amongst us.
“I love the rare occasions when someone comes to me asking for help and I’m able to provide shelter for them that very same day. There have been a few times where in the course of a single shift I’ve changed someone’s life completely for the better,” says LAHSA member Steven Elias.
Numerous workers on the frontlines were formerly unhoused and know just how important the “human touch” is key in establishing relationships with this population.
“When we search for ways to reconnect people in a way that gives them their dignity back, it provides them with a sense of belonging while placing them in a position to become productive members of society again,” says formerly unhoused LAHSA member Michael Williams.
“I was homeless at one time, and I have compassion and resources to assist and build trust to assist those experiencing homelessness,” adds LAHSA member Lisa Pacheco.
“Without compassion, there is no way to build trust.”
Now Elias, Williams, and Pacheco are leading the charge with their fellow Bargaining Team members for a fair contract.
They’re ramping up to fight for an across-the-board pay increase, additional paid time off, bilingual pay, extra training, a boot allowance, and additional tools to help LAHSA workers tackle one of LA’s toughest jobs.
The focused efforts of LAHSA workers — not politicians’ speeches and pointless crackdowns — are the solution to the LA’s unhoused crisis.
It’s time to back up LAHSA workers to get the tools they need to do the job right.
Are you a LAHSA SEIU 721 member and interested in joining the Contract Action Team (CAT)? Sign up here.
The CAT team is a network of LAHSA SEIU 721 members that communicate information to and from the bargaining team.
On top of that, CAT members organize and mobilize co-workers to win at the bargaining table. Fair and just contracts are won by standing #UnionStrong!