Our Brief History
In 2015, a group of Whittier community members took notice and concern with the spike in community neighbors without a place to call home. Understanding that the number of people experiencing homelessness had risen dramatically across the Los Angeles area (and indeed the state), text & social media messages, and coffee meetings resulted in a small group of men and women from Whittier coming together to announce a community meeting in October of 2015. With the goal being more than simply a meeting, but a catalytic and collaborative moment that unites under a common interest and pooling of ideas & resources, the word “Consortium” was chosen to represent the event and the Whittier Consortium on Homelessness emerged. The October 2015 meeting was slated to accommodate 40-60 people.
In attendance at the first meeting were Whittierites from across the various communities of interest: residents, people experiencing homelessness, business owners and representatives, nonprofit leaders, members from the local government departments (police, fire, social services), local political leaders, and some from neighboring cities who’d heard of the meeting. All in all, approximately 180 people attended. With lunch prepared and served by residents of First Day Coalition (a local non-profit serving the homeless) the day was spent trying to understand the nature of people’s experience with the homeless, the homeless’ experience with others, what the factors contributing to homelessness are, and learning about neighbors.
Given The Whittier Consortium’s bent toward action, the first Consortium meeting ended with an ideas brainstorm by all those in attendance. Concerns and ideas were gathered, and those involved started working toward ideas to address the concerns or further ideas that had in them potential for lasting community connection. Within the first year, some solutions or steps toward solutions have been met through the collective and collaborative effort called the Whittier Consortium on Homelessness, including a first-of-its-kind dental program that launched in July of 2016 that serves some of the homeless with true dental services, and an effort to find a place for emergency bridge housing so that Whittierites who suddenly experience homeless can stay in the community while finding long term help.
The Whittier Consortium on Homelessness is not a company, department, or agency, but a collaborative effort on the part of the community. The Consortium looks forward to the day when nobody has to be homeless in Whittier.