The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) of Santa Monica, in partnership with the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness, to be given out over a three-year period. The grant money is earmarked specifically to help fund two full-time OPCC employees in Malibu to provide outreach to the homeless population, estimated to be around 160 individuals, and connect them to services and permanent housing.
The Hilton grant brings the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness to the halfway point of meeting its fundraising goal of $555,000 to cover the first three years of social services for the homeless. In May, the group announced its major gifts campaign had raised over $100,000 since beginning in February, and the City of Malibu recently awarded the group $38,000 from its General Fund Grant Program for the 2016-17 budget year.
“We deeply appreciate the Hilton Foundation’s extraordinary support of our efforts to reduce homelessness in Malibu, and to help our neediest residents find permanent housing and critically-needed services,” said taskforce co-founder Jay Scott. “Many of us who provide volunteer assistance to homeless individuals in Malibu realize that OPCC’s professional approach, vast experience and comprehensive services will bring deeper and more lasting help to our homeless neighbors than anything we could possibly provide ourselves.”
The goal amount covers not only salaries and benefits of social workers over three years, but also the cost of a used vehicle, supplies and equipment, and housing facilitation expenses — first and last month’s rents, etc.
Formed in February 2016, the task force is headed by two co-chairs: former Malibu Mayor and Council Member Pamela Conley Ulich and Scott, 2015 Malibu Times Dolphin Award winner and board member of the Malibu Community Labor Exchange. Both have a history of helping the homeless in Malibu.
Other members of the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness include Matt deNicola, Reverend Paul Elder, Dr. Renee Kaswan, Burt and Joan Ross, and “junior member” Cooper deNicola.
Now in its 53rd year, OPCC, headquartered in Santa Monica, provides fully integrated social services not only to homeless individuals, but also victims of domestic violence and at-risk youth, including cases with physical or mental illness or substance abuse. OPCC is also contracted to Pacific Palisades to provide services.
OPCC was an early adopter of the Housing First model, which emphasizes getting people off the streets first, then working with them to fix other problems.
“Over the past year, we’ve been helping Malibu’s CART group and task force formulate a plan for helping the homeless — helping them understand where they wanted to focus, and providing tours and education about our services and facilities,” OPCC Executive Director John Maceri said in a phone interview with The Malibu Times.
Conley Ulich believes that having OPCC in Malibu will not only help the homeless, but safeguard the community as a whole in terms of reduced risk of fires from hillside encampments and aggressive behavior by homeless individuals with mental health or addiction issues.
OPCC hopes to begin work in Malibu by the end of August, with a two-person, fulltime professional outreach team that will engage homeless individuals on the streets, hillsides and beaches of Malibu — gradually building trusting relationships with the goal of linking them to services.
Maceri said they have been actively interviewing candidates for these two positions over the past few weeks, with the goal of finding experienced individuals who can “hit the ground running.”
“It takes a community working together to assist people experiencing homelessness to make the transition into housing and self-sufficiency,” Maceri said. “The generosity and support of the Hilton Foundation and City of Malibu, along with individuals and congregations, have provided the resources to begin this important work.”
Now that there’s enough money in the coffers to begin the actual program, Maceri said he welcomes this next phase of collaboration with the task force.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by Conrad N. Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels, who left his fortune to “help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people.” The foundation focuses on six priority areas: safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV /AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care and supporting the work of Catholic Sisters.
The Foundation also awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize annually to a nonprofit organization “doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering.”
For more information, visit hiltonfoundation.org.
For more information about the Malibu Task Force on Homelessness, email firstname.lastname@example.org.