Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are uncertain about the future of their health, safety, and economic security. Homeless people and those who are transitioning from homelessness are particularly vulnerable to these concerns.

LA Family Housing is dedicated to helping families and individuals in the Los Angeles area transition out of homelessness and poverty through affordable housing and a variety of supportive services, such as medical services provided through the Northeast Valley Health Center. LAFH is a regional leader in providing solutions to end homelessness.

Every year, LAFH provides housing and support services to 11,000 men, women, and children and secures permanent housing for about 2,200 people. They have an above-average housing retention rate of 94 percent.

In an effort to help LAFH continue its vital mission to serve homeless and poor populations in the Los Angeles area during the pandemic, GreaterGood has donated thousands of masks to help keep their staff and the people they serve safe from COVID-19.

Photo: Courtesy of LA Family Housing’s Communications Department

“This grant has helped LAFH staff continue to provide housing and supportive services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in a safe way, ensuring that households can continue on their path toward permanent housing, stability, and improved health and wellbeing,” writes Hilary Mandel, director of grants at LAFH.

Many of the masks have gone to LAFH staff in order to help keep them and the people they serve safe as they continue their mission. Lots of other disposable masks, however, have been gifted directly to homeless and vulnerable people.

“Many people experiencing homelessness do not have reliable access to washing machines, so being able to provide multiple disposable, single-use masks has been integral in preventing the spread of disease among unhoused populations,” Mandel states in the organization’s grant report.

She continues, “While we do not know the full effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, we know that by providing PPE to people experiencing homelessness and people living in interim housing sites that make social distancing difficult, we are significantly reducing the spread of COVID-19 among this vulnerable population.”

As COVID-19 continues to keep businesses closed and put people out of work, many people are experiencing unexpected homelessness for the first time. There are more people in need of assistance than ever before.

Photo: Courtesy of LA Family Housing’s Communications Department

“This grant also helped keep our participants safe, reducing the likelihood of contracting and spreading COVID-19 by providing disposable masks for people living on the streets and in Project Roomkey sites,” writes Mandel.

One of LAFH’s most important activities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been Project Roomkey, a program that aims to find hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable and homeless people so that they can stay safe and warm and avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. Our masks are helping the people working on and helped by this program stay safe as well.

“At the outset of COVID-19, LAFH took on the heavy lift of moving hundreds of unsheltered people off the streets and into newly-opened Project Roomkey sites virtually overnight,” says the organization’s grant report. “Many of these individuals had been on the streets for years, if not decades, and had lost their faith in the homeless service system’s ability to bring them indoors. LAFH was able to provide them not only with a safe place to sleep, but with warm, nutritious food, access to medical care, and masks, hand sanitizer, and other PPE to ensure that they were able to protect themselves and their loved ones against the threat of COVID-19. As people met with Outreach workers and began the process of moving into Project Roomkey sites, they couldn’t believe that they were finally going to have a place to sleep, shower, and stay safe.

Photo: Courtesy of LA Family Housing’s Communications Department
Duane Pierfax sits on the bed in his Project Roomkey hotel room after moving in from an encampment.

“One participant, upon moving into his new room, shared that after all these years on the streets, unable to get the help he needed, he felt like no one cared if he lived or died—But while working with LAFH staff who provided him with masks and hand sanitizer and explained that it would help keep him safe against COVID-19, he began to cry, stating that it was the first time in years that he felt like someone cared about if he lived or died.

“On behalf of the staff and participants at LA Family Housing, thank you for helping keep us safe through this generous donation of masks,” says Mandel.

GreaterGood has donated over one million masks to frontline workers and essential employees in the U.S. and all over the world, including medical professionals, elder care workers, staff and volunteers at animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries, food service workers who aid vulnerable populations, and other frontline heroes. With your help, we hope to mask a million more!

Please check out our COVID-19 response page to see how we’re helping during the pandemic and visit our Mask a Million page to learn more about our mask donation project and some ways you can help.

Photo: Courtesy of LA Family Housing’s Communications Department

You can help people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and help us fund more medical masks by purchasing items from our online stores, which helps fund even more medical masks. Shop for masks for yourself and look for the “Give a Mask” symbol, letting you know a purchase of that product also triggers a mask donation!

You can also click the button on each of our Click to Give sites daily to trigger a donation from our sponsors to help people, pets, and the planet. During the pandemic, we’re increasing the number of times you can click up to eight times a day (once every three hours) per site. Every additional click will fund disaster relief efforts like donating supplies for overburdened animal shelters, protective gear for front line healthcare workers, and food for those who are struggling. Below are the links to each of our click-to-give sites.

GreaterGood is honored to support the lifesaving efforts of organizations like LA Family Housing in the U.S. and all over the world. Keep up the great work, everyone!

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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