LOS ANGELES — Angela’s House will soon be a permanent housing complex in South Los Angeles that is dedicated to getting families with children off the streets.
Seeing the progress has filled Reverend Andy Bales with pride.
“It gives me hope that soon we’ll have 86 families currently devastated by homelessness off the streets,” Bales said.
Rev. Bales is CEO of Union Rescue Mission. He has dedicated the last 35 years of his life to the non-profit’s mission of solving homelessness.
Angela’s House was years and the making, but it finally broke ground in 2019.
“We’re all about recovery and life transformation and that’s why we do everything with private funds only,” Rev. Bales said.
Rev. Bales said he can relate to voters who question why the problem of homelessness has ballooned despite billions being poured into programs, many of which are taxpayer funded. According to him, the government way is too expensive and inefficient.
“We’ve misappropriated the money. The one thing we shouldn’t continue to do is the very expensive $750,000 per unit,” Bales said. “That seems to be the way government is taking care of homelessness and it’s not getting the job done.”
Rev. Bales said URM’s privately funded complex came together at just $400,000 per unit and will have social, medical and dental services on site for residents.
There is one main reason why Rev. Bales said URM does not take public funding: their properties can restrict drugs and alcohol in a way publicly funded housing cannot.
“What good is it to provide a place for families if you let chaos reign inside?” he said.
Rev. Bales agrees homelessness will be an issue taking center stage in the recall election and he said people should be listening to how the governor and recall candidates address drug addiction and mental health as they pertain to the unhoused.
“Go with the candidate who is describing a FEMA-like approach that includes recovery because many people who are unhoused need mental health and recovery from addiction,” Rev. Bales said.
Gary Painter, who teaches public policy at the University of Southern California, has been studying homelessness and housing for three decades. He expects the recall election to be a close one and said voters are looking to for specific solutions that could offer real improvements.
“[What] voters need to really think about, is an action taken at the ballot box for recalling Governor Gaving Newsom and perhaps replacing him with another candidate actually going to create measurable change. Or will it just simply be an expression of anger because the current governor hasn’t quite delivered on some of the hopes and promises that he outlined,” Painter said.
Meanwhile, Rev. Bales has focused on immediate solutions on the ground. He remains hopeful of progress to get families back on track regardless of what happens in politics.
“We cannot leave precious human beings on the streets to die in Los Angeles,” he said.