Ruth Schwartz, pioneer of homeless providers in L.A., dies

Within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when governments and firms had been preventing over private protecting gear, Ruth Schwartz foresaw that these she had devoted her life to — the shelters and businesses serving L.A. County’s poorest — wouldn’t thrive in that competitors.

And she or he knew what to do. Schwartz turned to the businesses that donate hundreds of thousands of {dollars} price of latest items annually to Shelter Partnership, the venerable Los Angeles charity that distributes these items to organizations serving these in want.

By way of her management, Shelter Partnership was in a position to safe over 1.5 million face masks, 6 semitrucks of hand sanitizer and different gadgets corresponding to hand cleaning soap, mentioned Jennifer Marquez, who handles product donations for the nonprofit.

Schwartz, who co-founded Shelter Partnership in 1985 and continued to guide it as its sole government director, died Friday whereas visiting a pal in Santa Barbara. She was 71.

As information of her dying raced by means of homeless providers circles, Schwartz was remembered as an activist of deep empathy and unyielding ardour who was a dwelling hyperlink to the formative days of the area’s battle with rising homelessness.

“She was homelessness earlier than Measure H, Proposition HHH, the advert hoc committee on Black homelessness,” mentioned Jack Barbour, chief government of the Southern California Well being & Rehabilitation Program, one of many many organizations Schwartz helped get on its toes.

Barbour mentioned he met Schwartz within the late Nineties when she attended a gathering of psychological well being suppliers to speak concerning the then-new thought known as housing first.

“No person paid any consideration to that,” Barbour mentioned. “My nonprofit jumped at it.”

Schwartz’s data and connections helped capitalize a undertaking to rehabilitate 14 models into everlasting housing for homeless folks.

And when the undertaking opened, she got here in individual.

“She met the purchasers,” Barbour mentioned. “They had been charming. You might see in her face the exhilaration she had that these models had been put to the use she had envisioned.”

Largely understanding of public view, Schwartz constructed Shelter Partnership right into a multipronged group that supplied coverage advocacy, technical recommendation and analysis, however was finest identified for its gigantic provide depot within the metropolis of Bell.

The S. Mark Taper Basis Shelter Useful resource Financial institution takes in sturdy items immediately from company donors and processes them by means of an Amazon-like warehouse for supply to greater than 200 nonprofits. Since 1989, greater than $267 million in furnishings, bedding, clothes, diapers and cleansing provides have been distributed free to nonprofits that serve homeless folks.

Schwartz oversaw the operation with a private contact.

“She would name me, ‘Are you guys selecting your stuff up?’” mentioned Joel John Roberts, chief government officer of PATH, a statewide homeless providers and housing nonprofit. “‘In fact, Ruth.’ She’d say you didn’t get sufficient. You need to be getting extra.”

Initially from Chicago, Schwartz grew up within the San Fernando Valley, graduated from Cal State Northridge and obtained a grasp’s diploma in city planning from UCLA.

Schwartz labored for the California Coastal Fee in Santa Barbara after which the California Division of Housing and Neighborhood Growth.

Within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, she returned to Los Angeles with a imaginative and prescient.

Assembly with Mayor Tom Bradley’s younger homelessness aide, Wendy Greuel, a future councilwoman and present chair of the Los Angeles Homeless Companies Authority, Schwartz was direct.

“She requested me if I used to be sufficiently old to have my job,” Greuel recalled. “That was Ruth, dogged and decided and by no means took no for a solution.”

She wished to create a company to advise and help all of the nonprofits popping as much as tackle homelessness.

“It was Ruth’s imaginative and prescient,” Greuel mentioned. “She introduced us all alongside. Tom Bradley notably appreciated the simplicity of what she was attempting to do and but the breadth of influence.”

Initially the mission was to affect public coverage and supply technical help, notably serving to startup nonprofits write grant proposals. However as phrase bought out, Schwartz started receiving requests from retailers and producers desirous to donate extra items.

It began with 1,000 raincoats that Schwartz stuffed into her Volvo sedan and delivered to native shelters. Then she bought a trucking agency to ship $100,000 price of kids’s clothes.

Enter federal Decide Harry Pregerson, who had negotiated the discharge of a part of the decommissioned Cheli Air Power Station in Bell to the Salvation Military for a homeless shelter. Pregerson launched Schwartz to Louise Oliver, deputy director of Southern California property for the U.S. Normal Companies Administration.

Inside two weeks, Oliver negotiated a no-cost lease on a 30,000-square-foot warehouse. Three strikes later, the company acquired and refurbished a 108,000-square-foot constructing on the previous base.

“A few of our most attention-grabbing donations included 163 pallets of disposable razors, 3,000 youth tuxedos, and a pair of,576 rolls of carpet,” Schwartz wrote in a 2014 historical past of Shelter Partnership. “Each donation we obtained, irrespective of how distinctive, ended up at an company and never in a landfill.”

As nonprofits corresponding to PATH and LA Household Housing grew into homeless powerhouses, and the town and county shaped the Los Angeles Homeless Companies Authority to coordinate, Schwartz took extra of a background position, however by no means hesitated to talk bluntly about how the system might work higher.

“Ruth was the one who would say in a gathering what everyone else was considering however didn’t need to say out loud,” mentioned Dhakshike Wickrema, homelessness deputy for Mark Ridley-Thomas, each as supervisor and now councilman. “She would say precisely what she thought to whomever. She would reduce by means of all the trimmings and get proper to the center of the matter.”

Higher effectivity, extra transparency and extra emphasis on essentially the most needy had been her fixed refrains.

“She was lifting up the problem of homelessness many years earlier than anybody else was listening to it,” mentioned Sarah Dusseault, a homelessness advisor to mayors and at present a LAHSA commissioner. “Her focus remained and at all times was on the very poorest.”

On the time of her dying, Schwartz was in Santa Barbara visiting her outdated pal and long-ago roommate Carol Galante, school director of the Terner Middle for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley.

“She was in nice spirits and had simply completed doing just a few laps of swimming within the pool and that was one thing she missed doing throughout the pandemic,” Galante mentioned.

Then she mentioned she didn’t really feel properly and later stopped respiration. Paramedics had been unable to revive her, Galante mentioned.

Though it was a social go to, that they had, after all, talked enterprise, Galante mentioned. Schwartz talked about being happy with Shelter Partnership’s contributions within the pandemic, but in addition fearful concerning the toll the additional work took on the employees.

“She was actually an extremely beneficiant individual in spirit,” Galante mentioned. When a lunch invoice got here, Galante recalled, “she mentioned, ‘I believe we should always go away a 30% tip. These folks have been out of labor.’”

Schwartz is survived by a brother, a sister and several other nieces and nephews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts