As we continue to double down on our efforts to address the homelessness crisis, we must acknowledge the street engagement workers that are fundamental to this work. This month, we highlight Evelyn Hernandez, a Program Manager and Outreach Worker from Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles for her extraordinary efforts in Koreatown.
Meet Evelyn Hernandez:
Evelyn is a Program Manager for Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles. As a Program Manager, her daily responsibilities include; coordinating outreach locations, outreach work in field locations, and providing harm reduction, trauma-informed care, behavioral health services, housing outreach, and more.
Born and raised in Koreatown, Evelyn faced many housing challenges growing up. Influenced and inspired by her own circumstances, she vowed to use her experiences to help others and make a difference in the lives of the unhoused community.
To Evelyn, her duties do not feel like work because of the positive impact her organization has made on the unhoused community.
“I am very happy and proud of the work that we are doing because I am able to see the difference we are making in our community. When I’m able to go out into the field, I meet individuals who have experienced so much trauma, and to be able to meet them where they are, is so rewarding. It’s truly beautiful. Sometimes I see that they have lost hope but being able to help them reach their goals, help them regain and rebuild that hope and to see them thrive - warms my heart.”
After nearly 19 years of working with the unhoused community, Evelyn shares how she is constantly inspired by every person she meets - whether it be a client or a staff member.
“I love coming into work and just being around my team. We are very motivated to work with our clients so it’s extremely encouraging to see everyone working towards the same goal.”
Evelyn also described her many inspiring encounters with clients on the job, including one particular story that she will never forget.
“I have many stories because prior to becoming a supervisor, I handled course case management. A few years ago, I was working with an older gentleman, he was about 86 years old. The client was referred to us by the Department of Mental Health because he could only speak Spanish. At the time I was the only Spanish speaker on my team. When I first met this individual, he had diabetes and various chronic medical conditions. He had lost his vision and was staying in someone’s garage. Just being able to guide him through the whole process, taking him to doctor appointments, connecting him to immigration services, and helping him get permanent housing, was one of my major accomplishments and that story will alway stick with me.”
Although Evelyn works throughout the city, some of her extensive work is being done at 6th and Berendo - at the center of her hometown, Koreatown. With Evelyn’s assistance, to date, 30 people who used to reside at 6th and Berendo have been rehoused.
“6th and Berendo has been one of the most challenging locations or encampments that we have targeted. One of the main issues is building a rapport with the clients. When working with unhoused individuals - consistency is key. They were able to see how frequently we visited the location which helped in earning trust.”
As Evelyn continues this important work, she hopes that people will learn to treat people with more dignity.
“Just because we are outreach workers, many people feel that we are the solution. We are not the solution, we are a part of the solution. In order for us to help the unhoused community, it takes a village. We have been very fortunate enough to make these connections and work in collaboration with other organizations to come together and reach the goal of ending homelessness.”
Thanks to Evelyn and to the commitment of the Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles team as well as the collaborative partners, such as The People Concern, People Assisting the Homeless, LAHSA, and County Departments of Health Services and Mental Health, some of the most vulnerable Angelenos are able to access the resources and services they need to move from the Streets to Home.
"I am honored to oversee the E6 Outreach Team at Homeless Health Care Los Angeles. Being that our outreach team is the “front door” to this agency, I feel privileged at being able to groom and prepare my team to provide professional services with respect and dignity to the population we serve. Everyone we come into contact with deserves housing and my team approaches each case with this in mind. Our multidisciplinary team consists of a Nurse Practitioner, Mental Health Therapist, Substance Use Specialist, Case Management, and Peer Specialist. Our common goal is to meet our clients where they're at by always utilizing Harm Reduction. We provide our clients with trauma-informed care and we apply culturally competent practices with all our clients. We look forward to coming into work each day and we enjoy the opportunities to help our community."