At this week’s Board meeting, we honored Mollie Lowery, one of the most respected leaders in the movement to end homelessness in Los Angeles.

Mollie has been working with people experiencing homelessness since 1975, before the “homeless population” ever had such a name. She began and ran a early programs for growing numbers of homeless at the Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica, including the Sojourn Shelter for Battered Women and Their Children, one of the first in the state. She founded and ran two extraordinary organizations, Lamp Community on Skid Row and Housing Works, which serves people experiencing homelessness and mental illness across the County.

She was not only a pioneer in homeless services, but was one of the first practitioners of the Housing First and Harm Reduction models, which have been shown to be the most effective strategies for ending chronic homelessness.

Mollie’s work has focused on reaching people experiencing the most extreme forms of mental illness, co-occurring addictions, chronic health aliments and homelessness. Mollie is a master of engagement, who uses her compassion and creativity to reach people cut off from the rest of society by their disabling conditions and extreme poverty.

Beyond her extraordinary ability to help others, Mollie is a skilled trainer and advocate. She has trained hundreds of workers who are the next generation of leaders in the movement to end homelessness. She has also used her experience to advocate for better models and increased resources for the people she serves.

To the surprise of no one who has worked with her during her incredible 40+ year career, she describes her “retirement” as a chance to “raise hell” on the issues of homelessness, health integration, and criminal justice reform.

Thank you for showing us all how to care and how to serve!