After years of working laborious odd-jobs and nearly four years of experiencing homelessness, Paul was tired. Unsure of how to connect to job opportunities that aligned with his interests, he decided to pay a visit to Chrysalis’ Downtown Los Angeles center at the recommendation of a few community members in the Skid Row neighborhood.

A month after Paul joined our program, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Paul watched as Chrysalis had to take the necessary response of unprecedentedly decreasing in-person services. After momentarily feeling like his employment goals and priorities had been put on the back burner, he was relieved to encounter no pause in communication with his Employment Specialist.

Paul stayed in touch with his case manager through weekly phone calls and continued to work closely with her to align his interests and skills with job opportunities needing to be filled amid the pandemic. Through their regular communication, his Employment Specialist identified an opportunity for Chrysalis to offer Paul rental assistance through our COVID-19 Relief Fund, providing him with much-needed stability as he continued his search for employment.

Through the Staffing division of our employment social enterprise – which has seen a 154% uptick in hiring over the course of 2020 – Paul was connected to a transitional job with Project Roomkey. Aimed at providing temporary housing solutions and wrap-around services for California’s most at-risk neighbors experiencing homelessness, the program staffs over 275 Chrysalis clients a week at their locations across Los Angeles County. A similar program known as Project Toolbelt operates in Orange County.

Two of these Project Roomkey locations are run by Chrysalis’ hiring partner National Health Foundation, which has transitioned several Chrysalis clients into permanent positions with their organization, including Paul.

Today, Paul celebrates being employed, maintaining his housing, and paying his bills on time. He shares, “I’m doing great this year. Even though there has been a pandemic, they kept me employed every day. It’s only been a year now. It’s been a journey. Chrysalis allowed me to put my best foot forward.”

Through the COVID-19 Relief Fund, we distributed $925,000 in emergency financial assistance to clients throughout 2020. As our clients navigate this dual health and economic crisis, assistance with rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and more has been vital to helping those we serve maintain stability. As the recently-published Economic Roundtable report Locked Out observes, “The most important determinant of pending eviction or foreclosure is recent household job loss,” which only adds to our urgency to meet our clients where they are with employment-related services and emergency relief.

The report also forecasts an 86% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County over the next four years due to the pandemic, based on the connection observed between unemployment and homelessness during the 2008 Great Recession. In 2008, Chrysalis saw a 60% increase in need for our services, and we can only anticipate a similar response in the months and years ahead.

As we prepare for a surge in demand for our services in 2021, please consider supporting our COVID-19 Response & Recovery Campaign, so that we can ensure that new and existing clients receive the resources and support they need to prepare for, find, and retain employment.