Policymakers must invest time and resources to upskill the existing peer workforce and expand career pathways for people experiencing homelessness 

Defining Peer Workers

Over recent years in the homelessness sector, funding dollars have fostered increased momentum, representing expansion in direct services and supportive housing developments. But leaders are struggling to fill vacancies and upskill the existing workforce, especially the peer workers, who are the backbone of the homelessness sector. CSH's initiative aims to create career pathways for people experiencing homelessness and fill the existing vacancies. 

Our Work in Los Angeles

los-angeles

In 2016, CSH launched the Healthcare Employment Advancement Ladder (HEAL), a Peer Specialist program in Los Angeles that creates career pathways for individuals with lived experiences of homelessness. 

Through continued engagement with Peer Workers, we have published two reports with recommendations for meeting the growing demand for positions such as Peer Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Peer Housing Navigators in Los Angeles County and supporting individuals exiting homelessness in gaining employment.

CSH gratefully acknowledges Cedars-Sinai Foundation for their generous support of this work.

The Voices of Peer Workers

Carmen Miller

Carmen Miller’s easy-going, friendly personality instantly makes you want to sit down and chat more. Yet behind the warm smile of the mother of three daughters is a story of resilience, courage, and healing through life’s trials.

Jayden Alexander

Jayden Alexander’s road to gain housing, transportation, and employment has been a turbulent yet inspirational journey. As a child, Jayden began suffering from depression at the age of 10. He would come to discover that his mental health challenges also included ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Robert Diaz

Robert Diaz has traveled a long, difficult, and dangerous road to get to the point in his life where he finds himself today. His words are thoughtful and honest as he describes the many challenges he has managed to overcome, including a violent gang attack that left him fighting for his life after being stabbed 16 times. Robert is a true survivor.

Thomas "TP" Hearn

Originally from Indianapolis, Thomas “TP” Hearn has considered Los Angeles home for the past 30 years. As a young adult, he served the nation through his service in the Army and Air Force reserves. His military career would later evolve into another endeavor that was extremely different – comedy.

Recommendations

Advancing Health Equity Through Skilled Peer Workers

CSH's first report published in 2022 focuses on our findings from the HEAL initiative and the 2021 symposium. The paper offers policymakers with a framework for supporting peer workforce development.

Peer Voices in Developing Best Practices

As a follow-up companion to the 2022 report titled, "Advancing Health Equity Through Skilled Peer Workers," this report offers recommendations for ways in which sector partners can provide support for current and potential workers, including those with lived experience of homelessness. In recent years, Los Angeles County has seen increased funding in the homelessness sector, leading to expanded services and housing developments. Despite these advancements, significant challenges remain, particularly around providing suitable wages and managing labor shortages, with many workers also experiencing housing insecurity. Addressing these issues is crucial for the sector to grow and be effective.

Contact Us

Learn more about the peer workforce efforts in Los Angeles.