● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
In order to fill a gap in services for Placer County’s male homeless population, David Loya founded the Lazarus Project in 1999, the first non-profit organization in Roseville to provide homeless men with housing and support services to help springboard them back into long-term self-sufficiency.
Today the organization also serves women, and by addressing the issues that cause homelessness, which include substance abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence, the entire community benefits.
Loya, executive director of the Lazarus Project, says that the organization accomplishes its mission by operating four safe homes in Roseville – three for men, one for women – and offers wrap-around support services from a case manager. “Our greatest accomplishment is seeing the hundreds of men and women [that we serve] attain economic and social well-being,” Loya says. “They are no longer bound by poverty, mental health issues and/or addictions, and are free to live a fruitful life within the community.”
This achievement is a hard-won victory for the Lazarus Project, which consistently battles operation costs; each of the organization’s homes serve 21 individuals nightly on a budget of just $200,000 annually. Ironically, Loya explains, providing housing in combination with support services has long been proven as the best way to end homelessness. “The economic downturn has created an incredible opportunity for our program to buy homes at their lowest cost in 20 years, but we don’t have enough operational funds to open them,” he says. Although money is available through government grants, the Lazarus Project relies on private donations to cover its costs.
Despite the monetary limitations, the Lazarus Project is committing to providing long-term tenancy for people with long histories of homelessness, serious mental illness, and co-occurring substance abuse; transitional housing with intensive supportive services to individuals who, once stabilized, are able to sustain tenancy in permanent housing; and housing subsidies that provide critical support until self-sufficiency can be achieved. Helping to make possible these goals, the Lazarus Project Fee was created. This no-charge policy for participants in the organization’s transitional program, asks that they donate $150 a month to the program after they have achieved economic stability, which according to Loya promotes accountability and develops a habit of paying rent.
Complementing the aforementioned efforts as well as providing case management, teaching independent living and job skills, and providing treatment for mental health issues and recovery from substance abuse, the Lazarus Project, in collaboration with other Placer County providers, is helping to develop the service-based one-stop center. “To build for tomorrow, and to assure that we don’t pass homelessness and its costs to our children, we must reduce poverty and address the systematic issues that lead to the problem,” Loya explains.
The Lazarus Project is looking to fill a number of volunteer positions, one of which is for a qualified fundraising coordinator to create and implement new events to complement the organization’s annual St. Patrick’s Dinner Celebration.
For information about the Lazarus Project or how you can get involved, visit lazarusprojectinc.org or call 916-772-6833.