Hundreds gather at Mar Vista church to hear success stories from the formerly homeless

MAR VISTA, Calif. (KABC) -- More than a hundred people packed the Westside Vineyard Church for an event titled "Stories From the Frontline."

On stage, Dede Olivas bravely recounted her time on the streets: "I lost everything, my house, my job, my girls."

Almost 25,000 people were placed into housing in Los Angeles County last year, and the homeless population still went up, now approaching 60,000.

"I was homeless for 15 years," Olivas told ABC7.

Amid those daunting statistics, here are some of the success stories.

When asked what the last four years have been like for Lydia Garcia, she said, "Heaven. I feel like all my prayers have been answered now."

Olivas described her path off the streets: "Heaven. I can take a bubble bath."

Several homeless advocacy groups, including the United Way's "Everyone In" campaign, use these stories to try and convince cities to join in the effort.

Chelsea Byers, the Westside field organizer for "Everyone In" said, "It's gonna take a while to get there. Building the units that we need to support 60,000 people across L.A. isn't going to happen overnight. But what can happen is everybody doing one more thing than they've ever done before to get us closer to that direction."

What's needed is housing and support for those who move in. It has happened for these people and it can happen to others as well.

"I did not think I was ever gonna have a home again," said Olivas.

Garcia added, "I just love it that I have my own place.Sometimes I can't believe it."

The next "Stories From the Frontline" it will be held in the South Bay in November.
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