I moved to the LA area from Indianapolis at the start of 2018. While I frequently visited and had business in CA for many years, the level and extent of the homelessness crisis did not become front of mind for me, until this move. I remember visiting my friend and mentor Mark E. Walker, a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Comfort LA. (https://www.eatcomfortla.com/) I used WAZE to meet him and it mapped me through the heart of the homeless in LA. Quite honestly, it was scary, and it looked like World War Z (the movie) or some apocalyptic future state, yet this was the reality on the ground. There are many lost souls to the opioid epidemic and many other maladies. If you have ever spent time in or near any of these homeless encampments you know exactly what I mean. I thought, how in the richest state in America and one of the wealthiest communities in the world, do we let this happen. How is this ok? How do we let this happen? These thoughts lingered with me. It fermented. I stewed on it. But I did not act.
Then we got hit with COVID19. The lockdowns happened and the world changed overnight. Those of us who could, immediately shifted to remote work. I recognize that this has created immense hardship for many. I have to admit, my life actually got better. Let me explain. I have been a road warrior for almost three decades. I have flown more than 3 million miles on American Airlines, and triple that on other airlines. I have always traveled. With the shutdown, I was able to shift to running my businesses remotely and therefore staying home. I live in Ventura, CA, I’m in the hills and I can see the ocean from my window. I never want to leave my home. I live in paradise. That said, the nagging feeling that the homeless situation is unacceptable has remained. But I did not act.
When I got a note from some fellow YPO (https://www.ypo.org/ ) members that there was a task force being formed to try to help with the homeless situation I was immediately intrigued. My nature is to solve problems I see. As a long time, entrepreneur, that has been the basis of why I founded many of my businesses. When I see an issue, I immediately think, how could this be solved… this mentality has served me well in life and business. The opportunity to join other YPO members to collaborate and find real solutions to the homelessness crisis seemed compelling. And so I acted.
After five months of meetings, research and 100s of conversations, we have found our voice with Dignity Moves .Org. This is a very action-oriented platform, bringing best of class thinking and practical solutions to the homelessness issue. We are not stuck with any prior solutions or thinking, and we are open to new ideas to actually impact the problem. I’m inspired by the team we have assembled who are simply trying find answers but are not constrained by what has or has not worked in the past. I’m proud to be a part of this effort and am humbled by the efforts our team and their talents being brought to attack the problem. This group is all about results and truly does not care about anything else. We will take political risk. We will work with all political parties, diverse opinions and groups as long as they are focused on solving problems. The politics are not our concern; however, we know how to play the game and will do so with every lever we can pull with our combined position as business and community leaders. We have Democrats, Republicans, Independents and unaffiliated leaders in our mix, and we are bound by a commitment to find the best solutions possible to help move the needle on homelessness. And that is what is needed. I personally am a fiscal conservative and a social libertarian, which makes it hard to find a political home today. But this is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue for all of us and we need to unite to help solve it.
I welcome the upcoming challenges and any and all who want to help our efforts to solve this critical issue in our society. I am acting, how can you?