More than 13,300 participants raised over $1.29 million at Saturday’s eighth annual HomeWalk, helping fund efforts to end homelessness in Los Angeles County, organizers said.
The walkers and runners who went on the 5-kilometer path through Exposition Park raised about $600,000, which was matched by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, according to Christine Marge, director of “Home For Good,” a partnership between the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce seeking to end chronic and veteran homelessness in Los Angeles County.
To provide an incentive for teams, the foundation pledged to again match the first $25,000 for each of the first six teams to raise $25,000, Marge said.
“We are thrilled with the turnout,” Marge said. “Thirteen thousand people waking up early on a Saturday morning to come out and say they care about ending homelessness is incredible.”
Marge credited the records to “more and more people are engaging in the issue and seeing that it is possible to end homelessness.”
“When people realize there is hope, they want to do something about it,” Marge said. “They see that there is something they can contribute and are so excited to be part of a movement to actually end this.”
Marge also cited the “increasing political will” to end homelessness, including the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is among the mayors to have accepted the challenge presented by first lady Michelle Obama in June to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.
Funds raised at the HomeWalk will provide housing for 1,300 homeless individuals, according to Elise Buik, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
As part of its “Creating Pathways out of Poverty” plan, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles has committed to ending veterans homelessness by 2015, chronic homelessness by 2016 and all homelessness by 2020.
“We’re in a sprint to the finish” in the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, Marge said.
The 2013 biennial Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found there were 4,618 veterans among the 39,641 homeless people in Los Angeles County.
“We need everyone to get involved in being a part of the solution,” Marge said. “We need landlords who are willing to rent out their units to formerly homeless veterans, people to volunteer with organizations in their communities.”
The next major effort the public can participate in in the effort to end homelessness is the homeless count, which will be held on three nights in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Marge said.
The homeless count provides “a better understanding of where we are in solving the problem,” Marge said.
Training is provided. More information is available on the authority’s website, lahsa.org.