LA program seeks to help people experiencing homelessness become entrepreneurs

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The city of Los Angeles says 2020 will bring new permanent housing and new resources to deal with homelessness, including one pilot program to teach skills to help people become entrepreneurs.

"It was a very difficult time," says Ana Zimmerman.

After leaving her partner she spent 19 months in a domestic violence shelter. Thanks to a program offered at the shelter, she started her own small business, Elli Greetings.

She creates handmade greeting cards. Now she and her children are in their own apartment and moving forward.

"Owning my own business makes me feel empowered, independent, confident and successful," she said.

It's all part of a pilot program to provide skills and training to homeless people.

"In this program's first year our aim is to provide 200 unhoused Angelenos with a path to financial stability through self-employment and funding," Mayor Eric Garcetti says.

The mayor says this is one way to fight homelessness. There will also be dozens of new shelters in 2020 - but there are still challenges.

"Every day 150 people become homeless in L.A. County. Individuals are falling into homelessness faster than our homeless services can help them out," Councilman Curren Price says.

The city says over the last two months it's been able to reach out to 2,532 people and finding permanent housing for about 1,033, and there have been 3,353 homeless encampment cleanups.

"It's really a pace that's is unprecedented, not only in L.A., but unmatched across the country," Garcetti said.
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