Blair Rich, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Open Irmas Family Campus
"What really sets us apart is a recognition that all of the services need to be combined together," LA Family Housing President Stephanie Klasky-Gamer told The Holllywood Reporter about why the Irmas Family Campus was different than a traditional homeless shelter.
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, congressman Adam Schiff, L.A. County supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and councilwoman Nury Martinez came together in North Hollywood on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the Irmas Family Campus, built by LA Family Housing.
Homelessness is a growing problem in Los Angeles, with the latest census counting more than 50,000 homeless individuals in the county. The Irmas Family Campus is meant to serve as a hub to provide a range of services for the homeless, ranging from transitional to permanent housing, as well as medical, drug and alcohol, veteran and other services that are vital to help people experiencing homelessness find a way off of the streets.
Blair Rich has been an LA Family Housing board member for ten years and is the president of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. She told THR why this was such vital cause for her to support.
“I’ve never been able to understand why a person living in L.A. needs to be homeless," she said. "It's not only an injustice but there’s actually no need for it, and I think that one of the great tragedies is that people think that the problem is not solvable, so it's led to this great apathy. LA Family Housing’s approach really shows you definitively that that’s not the case. I tell people all the time, it's not cancer. We’re not looking for the cure. We actually know what to do. And this is part of the solution, building permanent affordable housing with supportive services.”
It was a hot and steamy afternoon in the Valley, but that didn’t prevent hundreds of guests from gathering in the courtyard of the newly built campus. The complex of buildings has a more open and welcoming design than a traditional homeless shelter and is meant to feel inviting to people seeking help.
In his address to the crowd, Mayor Garcetti addressed the opposition that people throughout Los Angeles have expressed about building more homeless shelters.
“As a resident who was born and raised in this Valley, yes, I want this in my backyard and all of our backyards, because it is not a choice between whether we build something and bring homeless people to us or not, it is whether or not we serve people who are homeless today or not in our neighborhoods,” he said.
The campus is named for the Irmas family, longtime philanthropists in the city. Matthew B. Irmas currently serves on the LA Family Housing board, and his mother, Audrey Irmas, was a former chairperson of LA Family Housing. Her contributions were recognized at the end of the program, when the entire crowd sang happy birthday to her to celebrate her 90th, and she was presented with a sheet cake, her personal favorite.
Stephanie Klasky-Gamer is the president and CEO of LA Family Housing, and she told THR what sets the Irmas Family Campus apart from other shelters. “It's a recognition that all of the services need to be combined together. We worked for many years with our architect on envisioning the campus, how we could create a place of safety, of hope, of people knowing that they’re where they’re supposed to be...the lines, the windows, the natural light, the organizing around a beautiful courtyard really helps us manifest our philosophy, which is meet people where they are at.”
The Irmas Family Campus is now open and prepared to assist homeless families and individuals from all over Los Angeles.