Nonprofit Pioneer Step Up Leads the Way in Ending Homelessness in Los Angeles

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
Jerry became a member of Step Up six years ago after experiencing homelessness for more than a decade, and it was the beginning of his new life. Step Up’s Permanent Supportive Housing helped Jerry build a strong foundation in his recovery and most importantly, get his son back.

At Step Up, which offers permanent supportive housing to the unhoused in Los Angeles, eviction is not an option. Instead of kicking out a man who woke up screaming at 3 am every morning, Step Up’s wraparound case management team worked with him – understood him. Yelling was a survival mechanism he learned while experiencing homelessness. With just a few weeks of mental health support, the screaming stopped.

The team at Step Up understands that when people are given housing first, healing follows. And it works. Ninety-eight percent of people housed with Step Up stay housed for at least a year.

The Housing First model prioritizes safe housing as the first step in the recovery process. The Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado provide this first step to 32 of our most vulnerable neighbors in Santa Monica.

“It takes up to a year for people to unlearn survival skills that were helpful to them on the street,” says Step Up President and CEO Tod Lipka. “The outcome we are working toward is a sense of belonging, and ultimately recovery.”

Step Up provides member-driven services to people experiencing serious mental health conditions and chronic homelessness with the goal to help them recover, stabilize, and integrate into the community. Their unique model makes an incredible impact on the communities it serves, including homeless veterans, youth transitioning out of foster care, unaccompanied women, and other adults. 

“So many people say that Step Up saved their lives,” Lipka says. “It is wonderful to know that we are making an impact in such a meaningful way.”

The nonprofit has successfully housed or found housing for more than 1,850 people in California, as well as in Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Their model of creating housing by converting blighted motels is one-third the cost of building the same apartment-style developments from the ground up and takes one-third the time. It has become a model for the state’s Project Homekey.

“In the ‘90s, we realized that you can’t solve homelessness without housing,” Lipka says. “What people received was usually an ascending level of services: food and clothing, then shelter, then temporary housing, then maybe permanent housing. The people who needed it the most rarely ever got housing.” 

With Step Up that is exactly what our neighbors are getting and the results are transformational. 


Step Up

Donate now!
(310) 696-4510 ext.2200
Chief Development Officer: Lynne S. Elwan


Step Up delivers compassionate support to people experiencing serious mental health issues, and persons who are experiencing chronic homelessness, to help them recover, stabilize, and integrate into the community. Through dynamic partnerships, we provide positive social and learning environments, vocational training, permanent supportive housing opportunities, and recovery services to empower individuals to cultivate lives of hope and dignity. We exercise innovative leadership and advocacy to increase public understanding, support, and acceptance of all people living with serious mental health issues.

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

When I left rehab, I was told that if I had a place to live, I could get my son back. Honestly, I didn’t have much hope. I had experienced homelessness for so long that I didn’t think anyone would be able to help me. But after a few phone calls, I met Brittany from Step Up. Within a few weeks I was signing a lease and nine days later my son came back home to live with me. That wouldn’t have been possible without Step Up. When they handed me the keys, that turned everything around. They helped me believe that I could change my life, and when you start to believe, anything is possible.
Step Up Member

Home for the Holidays — Help Save a Life This Holiday Season

You can help save the lives of thousands of our unhoused neighbors this holiday season. 

Step Up’s 2022 Home for the Holidays campaign will help more veterans, transition-age youth, and people in need find permanent supportive housing and compassionate wraparound services. Their goal is to raise $5 million.

Your gift will help fund new housing developments throughout Southern California, where individuals experiencing chronic homelessness can access onsite mental health services, positive social and learning environments, vocational training, and other life-changing support.  

Envision a world alongside Step Up where everyone has access to mental healthcare, a safe home, and the opportunity to live a fulfilling life. You can help ensure that people are surrounded with compassion, essential supportive services, and most importantly a place to call home.

Key Supporters

Ahmanson Foundation
Annenberg Foundation
Senator Ben Allen
Assemblyman Richard Bloom
and Robbie Black
California Community Foundation
The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Don and Lorraine Freeberg Foundation
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Dr. David Foster
George Hoag Family Foundation
Aileen Getty
Corky Hale
The Home Depot Foundation
Kaiser Permanente Foundation
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Family Foundation
Senator Sheila Kuehl
Congressman Ted W. Lieu
Janet Montgomery
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Martin and Janet Sheen
Weingart Foundation
Zev Yaroslavsky