Giving money to the poor has always been seen as futile — a good percentage of us think the poor or the homeless don’t actually want to work.
However, that’s not really true. When offered the opportunity, they can be the most motivated — especially when the work provided is a way to contribute to the world while allowing them to earn money and protect their families. Episode 72 of The Missing Conversation explored how homelessness is actually solvable and the resources and actions we can undertake to fulfill this.
Today, let’s explore what The Global Bridge Foundation has been aspiring to do to eliminate homelessness and increase the opportunities we can offer more people. Every day we’re attempting to be a source of bringing the bottom economic sector up. Now that may sound like a grandiose claim, but you will see a presentation of how we can economically and humanely give job opportunities and low cost quality housing while helping the environment all at the same time.
Some of the main focus areas for The Global Bridge Foundation include alternative economical housing, creating food through new work opportunities, and fostering a deep sense of community —a heart-centered approach for both temporary and permanent shelter.
The Global Bridge is close to completing a local project and spawned extra support for five other programs already deeply embedded in the homelessness crisis.
There is a key understanding that will help us comprehend why homelessness is and has been an issue throughout time and in the vast majority of the world. To the best of our knowledge, none of the powerful countries have ever looked at the poorest of the poor of their country and given great work and living opportunities to them. And we have a chance to be the first country to do so — and we’re starting locally in LA County. It’s probably the most challenging place in the country to begin because the regulations are so strict. Yet, we’ve made progress to where we’re on the verge of having a complete breakthrough with the cooperation of LA County Planning and other county agencies.
When we look at the wealthy trying to be wealthier, this often creates an infrastructure that continuously pollutes our environment instead of serving the needs of the poor. When we neglect the needs of the poor and those who need our help, we inadvertently create societal divides. These very divides are fertile grounds for terrorism. So it’s much bigger than just bringing the bottom up. It’s also reducing the likelihood of terrorism if this can be spread throughout the world, one step at a time.
At the same time, it’s one of the keys to uniting countries into a sense of community — which lessens the dangers of international alienation and even nuclear war. It reduces the dangers of the loss of democracy because the poor are empowered, and they’re being given not just money but also allowed to work. As this has been shown through microfinance, the poor are motivated to work — they just haven’t had the opportunities yet.
The Global Bridge x The People Concern
One of the agencies The Global Bridge has worked closely with is The People Concern. They have a similar vision and want the opportunity to use the land to create work opportunities for the homeless and teach them regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture is a type of organic farming. It doesn’t include tilling the soil and throwing the top layer into the air. In that method, the soil loses its essential nutrients and stops absorbing the chemicals that cause global warming. It also doesn’t use traditional means of fertilizer, which eliminates the most nutritious source of vitamins and minerals. Instead, regenerative agriculture uses animals to help plot the ground (replacing tilling machines). This soil is fertilized in a way that is truly natural and ready for use with expanded benefits for the use of water, soil development, and the most healthy food possible.
In Lancaster, The People Concern has created community housing using a form of alternative construction. As a result, the cost of building a unit was reduced from $700,000 to $300,000. They also have practiced a lot of the principles of community building, e.g., adding a cinema and similar enjoyable features that would make it desirable for the homeless community to really be able not only to grow and have mental health facilities but to be able to enjoy themselves while they’re doing it.
Other initiatives The Global Bridge supports:
Similarly, Community First, based in Austin, Texas, is another community housing for the homeless that leads to work opportunities. It’s a community built on approximately 200 acres, with trailers, micro houses, and other types of alternative structures. The people living there are taught skills that allow them to make meaningful contributions. Again, this is a prime example of long-term housing for the homeless, with 6-7 different types of employment options.
Hope for the Homeless is a wonderful program in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles. There are a number of others in Northern California that offer interim housing.
A separate program in Trieste, Italy focuses on welcoming the homeless into their community, making space for them, and treating them humanely. Some people from Los Angeles County representing the city council even went to Trieste to understand how best to emulate this.
So the seeds of Trieste are in the LA County Global Bridge Program, a program that’s been going on for 20 years. Every year, we hand out healthcare kits, warm clothing, and sleeping bags to the homeless. We’ve been doing that for a long time in partnership with two close friends. This is an example of building a sense of community.
During this initiative, we’ve taken the time to interview the people. We asked them if they would be motivated to go to a program with dignified housing, where they had work opportunities and a place where they felt safe and cared for.
The answer has always been a resounding yes.
The dominant focus of The Global Bridge Foundation is creating permanent housing. From locating land that can be used to putting in the necessary applications after rigorous due diligence and testing, we’re hopeful for a positive response soon. Indeed, we have even hired a grand writer with 30+ years of experience who is utterly inspired to help boost our program. These grants, if and when they come through, will support development costs, the acquisition of the land, and the ongoing total cost of the housing and the infrastructure needed.
Organizations receiving The Global Bridge Foundation Grants:
SHARE Collaborative Housing: A prominent LA County Housing Program, Share, uses existing available housing —10-bedroom, six-bath duplexes. They’re renting them because they don’t have the fund (which Global Bridge contributed towards). At the moment, they can’t be approved for funding because they’re in a configuration of a real estate structure that isn’t the one-bedroom, one-bath and kitchen for one-person model. They’re using two people in a bedroom. This is why they house 20 people in this 10-bedroom, six-bath facility. This is not fundable in permanent supportive housing (which is the term used for HUD funding at the largest level in the country).
Share works with a minimal budget and relies heavily on donations from private foundations to house over 500 people. However, their work continues to be an inspiration and a force for good, which is why The Global Bridge was thrilled to give them a grant. Even without adequate funding, they’ve been able to do so much, and we’re excited to be able to replicate their efforts soon.
West Coast Care: The organization patrols beaches and unites the community of homeless on the beaches with their families wherever possible. They’ve successfully united over a thousand people with their original families a year. At the same time, they also connect all the homeless people they can with facilities throughout LA County dealing with whatever their needs are.
Largest low-income employer in Georgia: They have trained 600+ people in regenerative agriculture. A portion of our grant application is to support funding which would allow them to build a training facility for the country to learn from. It’s a unique training program with a significant 52-week training program with residential housing.
Reimagine Appalachia: In Kentucky Appalachia, they have a 7,000-acre facility that teaches not only regenerative agriculture but also reforestation and ecosystem restoration.
Marina Airport Counseling Center: A training program for marriage and family therapist interns. They run group counseling sessions for the homeless, costing $15 an hour for their supervision fees. They are an incredibly well-respected program for marriage and family therapists, and stay on the creative edge with their quality training and are flexible to work across a wide range of mental health issues.
The Global Bridge has partnered (or is currently brainstorming solutions) with:
Grid Alternatives: Their mission is to train people in poverty on installing solar power.
Every Table: A B-Corp that serves $5 nutritious meals in the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
The Global Bridge’s Project to Eliminate Homelessness
We’ve been outlining our project spanning 125 acres, including modular housing for 3-bedroom, one or 2-bath houses or 1-bedroom, 1-bath houses.
We also will be utilizing the mental health services of programs like Marina Airport Counseling Center to provide adequate mental health support. With the popularity of Zoom post the Covid-19 pandemic, we can also afford to get support digitally as each counseling center will also have a computer center. Five additional dwellings for more services (in addition to 48 housing units) have been preliminarily approved to be built by Los Angeles County, subject to a final submission and approval of the whole site plan and program.
We’re well on our way to helping build sustainable, low-cost housing (both permanent and otherwise) for a portion of the homeless in LA County. However, we firmly believe this model of helping the homeless with work opportunities and giving them a chance to contribute meaningfully to society can be parlayed across the country and even the world.
As you read this, please ask yourself if you believe you can be of assistance that will always be needed in this very large endeavor. This will require volunteers, funding, expertise and experience in the field.
You can listen to The Missing Conversation to learn more about The Global Bridge Foundation’s work or our progress with these projects. But the best way to help us out is to join forces in whatever capacity you can — help others find this podcast and this blog.
If you’d like to support us by partnering or you’d like to reach out to talk to us, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.