Back in the day, many people who were homeless for a period of time became used to the culture, and when given the choice, chose to remain on the streets. Nowadays, with L.A.’s increasing housing shortage and a job market that doesn’t fully support the cost of living here, homeless people can resemble any one of us. They may have become chronically unemployed due to the economy, were victims of disasters or crimes, or faced unexpected financial hardships, like mounting medical debts.

After being on the streets for just a few days, a person usually experiences some level of trauma. Afraid to sleep in fear of someone hurting them or stealing what little they have, their mental state diminishes. Women especially struggle.

Adding to this bleak picture is having an addiction while on the streets. Some get high on stimulants to stay awake and protect themselves, while others take opioids to forget their despair, if only for a short time. Regardless of their drug of choice, their problems eventually worsen.

Meanwhile, homelessness is on the rise, but solutions are few. Even our government can’t seem to agree on how homelessness is defined, causing confusion over who can be served by publicly funded programs. I’ve seen homeless definitions range from “only those living on the streets” to “those with an inconsistent place to sleep.” Most people wanting treatment represent the latter.

Here at CLARE|MATRIX, we aim to rebuild the identity of homeless individuals seeking treatment. Instead of viewing them as “homeless junkies,” we identify them as people who, among all of their positive attributes, are struggling with behavioral health conditions. We help restore their overall well-being by guiding them on a path to a healthier lifestyle – physically, mentally and spiritually.