Man's mission to help homeless in LA centered on simple solution: Be kind, but do something

While the debate on how to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in California continues, one man is stepping in.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A recent Housing and Urban Development count of people in California experiencing homelessness determined 30% were chronically homeless in January 2020.

While the debate on how to reduce that number continues, one man is on a mission to make a difference himself.

"My passion was, you know, get them clothes, shoes, hygiene package, water ... All types of races, I was just being a blessing to them," said Luther Keith Jr. of Central Urban Mission during an interview with Eyewitness News.

Keith's mission is actually his crusade to help the less fortunate. His efforts formally began in 1999 by collecting clothes with the help of his father's church - Central Baptist in Inglewood - and gathering food from local food banks.

But he says he's wanted to help the less fortunate since he was a child.

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He personally delivers the items to homeless communities across Los Angeles County, even on the streets of Skid Row in the shadows of more established missions.

"Every day, somebody new comes from out of town needing some clothes ... needing some food. Every day," he said.

He's not only providing food and clothing, through his security work at SoFi Stadium, Central Urban Mission has also helped nearly two dozen people get jobs at SoFi Stadium.

Keith's energy seems endless.

His passion is only limited by the hours in a day but certainly not the time of day even as he knows the danger that can come with his efforts in downtown L.A.

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The Los Angeles City Council has approved nearly $2 million to fund homeless outreach teams and other positions related to its street engagement strategy designed to accompany enforcement of the city's new anti-camping law.

"Around 8:30, 9 o'clock, we go pick up a load of clothes and we go down to Skid Row," said Keith. "I've been there at 11 o'clock, 1 o'clock, 5 o'clock in the morning. They're up in the middle of the night. They're hungry ... need some clothes, need blankets ... it's cold."

His connections through the community can often help him find transitional housing, but that roof comes with a stern warning from a gentle man.

"When I get you there, you've got to follow the rules," he tells the people he's helped. "You can't go in and do what you want to do. You've got to follow their rules."

Keith's model might not seem possible for everyone, but the Central Urban Mission is actually the simplest of solutions: Be kind to others, but do something.

"You see them out there every day all over the world. Be a blessing to them," said Keith. "Gather some stuff, go out there and give it to them. Somebody's throwing away food ... all this food thrown away... somebody's hungry out there. Don't throw the food away, somebody's hungry. Take it to them ... give them something to eat."

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