The creation of Hollywood 4WRD’s FAQ guide was not an easy task. Soon after H4WRD’s Education Committee began meeting to discuss the project, they realized from their initial research they were attempting to create something that did not exist; something that would not simply answer a few questions about homelessness in Hollywood, but would instead serve as a comprehensive guide or handbook on the subject.
With their North Star firmly in place, the Education Committee of Louis Abramson, Dave Gordon, and Board Chair Steve Fiechter realized one more thing: the immense project on which they were embarking would be essential not only to the community, but to satisfy the mission of Hollywood 4WRD. One of H4WRD’s four pillars, after all, was to provide education about homelessness in Hollywood*. The committee thus came to view this FAQ as something of an H4WRD 'deliverable’ they owed the community.
Unlike Steve and Louis, who both had vast experience in the service providers space, Dave was a local Hollywood resident and business man who saw himself as the token ‘lay person’ on the committee. As such, he volunteered to spearhead the initiative.
“The truth is,” Dave explained. “Steve and Louis knew too much about homelessness already. Because of my relative ignorance on the topic, I’d be asking the same questions as the audience we intended to reach with our FAQ.”
So it was that Dave first rolled up his sleeves in January of 2022 to begin work on the creation of a general overview of all current information, rules and regulations relevant to homelessness in Hollywood. Everywhere he looked, he found only partial discussions on topics, and a lot of out-of-date, pre-Pandemic information at that. These early findings made him even more convinced of the importance of offering all this information in one place, a one-stop shop or ‘hub’ of resources that aligned with Hollywood 4WRD’s role in the community.
Dave’s research included scouring online articles, reading over arcane statutes and laws pertaining to homelessness, as well as numerous interviews with local officials and service providers, and other persons with expertise. As he completed various sections, he’d bring the work back to Steve and Louis for review. Later in the process, the review team grew to include fellow board member, Kerry Morrison, as well as H4WRD’s staff, Executive Director, Brittney Weissman and Communications & Operations Director, Tim Davis. The expanded team offered informed notes, feedback and suggestions which helped shape the evolving document and ensure its accuracy.
Another important issue the committee wrestled with was determining where to stop. The information pertaining to homelessness is vast, covering issues like flaws in the country’s housing, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment systems; the laws and regulations affecting homelessness in Hollywood; and the network of services and facilities dedicated to homelessness issues. Even as the final length of the Handbook continued to grow, the Committee found itself in a never-ending discussion about which material to exclude. No one wanted the final document to be so long that it ceased to be useful to its target audience—the concerned non-expert seeking a good overview of the homelessness crisis.
The resulting FAQ was released in January of 2023, a full year after the Education Committee began its work, and functions essentially as a Handbook on Homelessness in Hollywood. The document is 72 pages long – longer than initially conceived, but still digestible, compelling and easy-to-read – and provides a wealth of information on a wide range of topics, including:
- The Current Los Angeles Rules Affecting Conditions on the Streets
- How Hollywood Sidewalks Are Kept Clean
- What are the alternatives to living on the streets?
- What is the process in Hollywood for helping someone move from living on the streets to a better situation?
As much ground as the FAQ covers, the Education Committee intends to update it each year, to ensure that all the information it contains remains up-to-date and relevant to our community. H4WRD is proud to make its FAQ available for FREE on its website here, and encourages members to share it widely with anyone who might find it useful. Over a year in the making, H4WRD’s Handbook on Homelessness truly represents a one-of-a-kind resource from a one-of-a-kind organization.
*Education is one of H4WRD’s four pillars. The other three are Advocacy, Service Coordination, and Innovation.