2019 Strategic Grant
Legal-name: Transformational Living Homes, Inc.
Address: PO Box 40045
City: Long Beach
Ranking-title: Board Chair of Directors, Althea McMurrian
First-name: Constance Gilkie
Title: Executive Director
Textarea-499: Assuring dignified, safe, comfortable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in Long Beach.
How-many-years: 1 year
How-many-individuals: 240 individuals
What-is-project: Transformational Living Homes, Inc. provides housing for residents of Long Beach experiencing homelessness. The organization houses individuals facing eviction situations due to rent increases, individuals from specialty re-entry situations who have no family support, as well as other individuals who are referred and have no other housing options. Once these individuals begin to experience success and have a safe place to come home to with TLH, they forge forward and follow their dreams to get back on track and contribute successfully to society.
TLH works diligently to find a safe, clean living space for all by processing applications and documenting an initial assessment of individuals with a brief, self-reported overview of their situation including case history, addiction history, etc. As part of the assessment TLH assigns individuals to the most appropriate house, choosing from 83 beds distributed throughout 8 properties. If no beds are available or the individual is not a good fit, staff work with the Long Beach Chapter of the Sober Living Network and other members of the network to find the best housing solution for both men and women. Transformational Living Homes, Inc. also connects people to the department of social services so that the individual has access to general relief such as food stamps, monthly cash support, and food subsidies. TLH uses a strong network of resource providers for job placement, addiction support, substance abuse and schooling. Transportation is arranged for individuals who need outpatient treatment by partnering with Divine Healthcare Services, Inc., a drug rehabilitation center for substance abuse treatment. For recently released individuals, TLH also provides meals and toiletries.
TLH makes an effort to hire from within and provide intermittent employment for individuals in the homes if maintenance, landscaping, data entry or other jobs are available. The average home stay is 2 years. Residents choose voluntary service roles such as house managers who assure cleanliness at each home and work to follow schedules for laundry and house chores in order to assure a peaceful home environment. This contributes to their leadership skills, serves as a resume building experience and increases their self-esteem. TLH staff have a deep and personal understanding of what it means to have experienced homelessness and know they are dealing with individuals who have not had the support network to be successful in life. They have contact with the individuals on a weekly basis and converse regularly with everyone. The men and women at these homes experience and show respect to others as their dignity is restored and they are given the opportunity to re-discover their skills and talents in a safe environment. TLH also provides social events throughout the year to appreciate residents, express gratitude for their contributions to the homes, instill values, and increase networking opportunities among the residents.
How-will-you-succeed: Transformational Living Homes, Inc. measures success by having all of their beds consistently full and seeing their residents work diligently to take advantage of the opportunities being provided. They maintain long-term contact with individuals, report positive experiences and gather beautiful testimonies of successfully restored lives. Individuals move on from TLH homes because they have been connected with necessary services, found employment, finished school, and created ways to be able to pay for their own housing and maintain their standard of living. When an individual’s goals are met and their own life dreams are able to come true, TLH knows they have fulfilled their mission. TLH staff has stories of individuals who have gone from eating out of trashcans to graduating with a doctorate. They support individuals who are suffering from deep depression and are able to find employment or go back to school, which brings them into a future and forward focused experience. All individuals have something in their core that excites them about life, and TLH works to help them re-discover that. They reduce the homeless population in Long Beach, initially by literally providing clean, sober housing and secondly, by giving individuals a second chance.
With a core belief that, “you can’t get anything done unless you have a safe place to sleep,” TLH works tirelessly to provide a stable, consistent, sober environment which empowers individuals experiencing homelessness by providing a safe place to sleep and connecting them to important wraparound services. People arrive at their new home with big dreams of re-establishing their lives, if they don’t have an environment that allows them to do that, they are not successful. TLH provides the support they need to truly transform their lives. They look forward to a time that when people find themselves experiencing homelessness there is enough housing available that within 24 hours they would have a dignified option, be able to restore dignity to their lives and bring success to the community.
TLH is diversifying their funding streams by pursuing additional grants and funding through county contracts and parolees in order to expand into additional homes with an increased number of beds, particularly for women and children. They see an ever-increasing need to attend to individuals who have been forced out of their homes due to rent increases. In order to continue their work, they are building a strong network to fulfill the maintenance needs of the homes through in-kind donations. They use their network to work with others to gain awareness as to what resources are available. TLH is diligently increasing their capacity after participating in the Annenberg Alchemy Plus program which provided funding for strategic planning. They are also expanding their individual donation program by participating in Long Beach Gives and other programs offered through The Nonprofit Partnership.
Who-are-you: Transformational Living Homes, Inc. is a tax-exempt nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that helps to transform lives and provide temporary and permanent housing for targeted segments of the “at risk” population in Long Beach. Our population includes those struggling with homelessness, individual’s who are having difficulty obtaining affordable housing, and recent parolees.
Transformational Living Homes provides a safe, dignified, comfortable and restorative experience for all; helping to not just keep people off of the streets, but to empower them to create a new life for themselves. As a registered 501c3, we have a solid 13-year history of serving in Long Beach and have seen individuals leave the program and maintain meaningful employment as city employees, business owners, nonprofit staff members and even housing activists. We have served over 1,500 individuals since 2007 and have experienced firsthand how men and women are able to continue their education, get clean and free of addictions and move on to a successful life in the future.
We are certified members of the Los Angeles County Sober Living Coalition. Our sober living homes exceed Sober Living Network Requirements for cleanliness, safety, quality of life, training and ethical practices. Additionally, TLH works to expand networks and reduce silos to provide a more comprehensive solution to homelessness in Long Beach. We house individuals experiencing homelessness and, through established partnerships, connect them with needed services. The network of mutual support and referrals that TLH has established provides needed services through agencies such as Harbor Interfaith Services, SHARE, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Long Beach Multi-Service Center, Salvation Army, LA CADA, Chapman House, Tarzana, and local hospitals such as College Hospital, Community Hospital and Redgate.
Our TLH team has over 100 years of combined sobriety. Constance Gilkie, the Executive Director, as leader of this organization serves the community passionately and has previously experienced homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence and struggled with mental health challenges. Her determination and empathy in working with this population leads TLH to success on a daily basis. Althea McMurrian Board Chair of Directors and Office volunteer has also experienced similar challenges in life and yet has managed to remain out of a homeless experience and is using gratitude as her way of giving back to the community. Everett Lamkin, Director of Operations, is a second-generation leader to serve with Transformational Living Homes. He sees the fruits of his labor after seeing his mom go through a sober living experience after suffering from addiction for 30 years. The inspiration and grounding that Everett’s mother received would not have happened if not for Transformational Living Homes and Constance’s vision of the need and opportunity to be a part of something that can help you tremendously.