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Meet Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing in Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Becky Dennison.

Becky, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I became interested in contributing to housing and homelessness solutions through volunteer work in high school and college. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1992, I became even more outraged about the overwhelming crisis and lack of response by government or the broader community. So in 1994, I quit my job and decided to work in the Skid Row community in a transitional housing program. I’ve learned so much over the years from people experiencing homelessness, through different jobs and experiences, and just try to keep learning and working hard on proven solutions that respect and uplift people. We also started more intensive community organizing in about 2000 to fight for systemic change, shifts in priorities and resources, and to protect Skid Row and other communities from gentrification and displacement. After over 20 years working to improve the Skid Row community and support people in advancing their own and community-wide housing solutions, I started working at Venice Community Housing in 2016. Much of my current work follows past experience, as well as the experience from the decade-plus I lived in Venice in the 90s and early 2000s, in fighting for and implementing solutions. We develop and operate affordable and supportive housing, create programs that support people of all ages with a particular focus on children and youth, and advocate for public policies and other changes that promote or demand equity and justice.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not a smooth road, but it’s been a good and just road. The biggest struggles are and have always been the lack of investment and value placed on and for low-income people and communities, particularly people experiencing homelessness. Low-income and homeless people are facing systemic oppression and barriers at almost every turn, yet continue to work every day sometimes just to survive but often to change outcomes for themselves, their families and communities. These systemic issues – government and private disinvestment in affordable housing, health, low-income communities and more – are the conditions we need to permanently change. Until there is equity for all of us, all of us must work harder to create and demand it – that’s the struggle.

Please tell us about Venice Community Housing.
The mission of Venice Community Housing (VCH) is to reduce homelessness, maximize affordable housing, empower low income constituents, provide social services, and advocate for public policy that protects and strengthens the economic, racial and cultural diversity of Venice and other neighborhoods on the Westside of Los Angeles.

VCH operates 216 units of affordable and supportive housing, with 175 more currently under development, in Venice, Mar Vista and Del Rey. In addition to providing housing, we provide a wide range of programs and services to ensure housing stability, enhance education, improve employment and income outcomes, improve health and mental health and otherwise support low-income and homeless communities.

We are proud of all of the work we do, but we are especially proud of the community building aspects of our work. We create opportunity for low-income residents and people who have experienced homelessness to have stable and safe housing, and thereby remain in their home communities and/or help contribute to diverse and active communities across the Westside. We build a collective voice of people working toward changes in policies and practices that will address and uplift the needs and talents of low-income people and change priorities to ensure equity in Los Angeles. We are active across many issue areas beyond housing, as we see housing as the stabilizing building block for many other needs and changes needed. We also know that the homelessness and affordable housing crisis are solvable issues if we make some key changes in our policies and priorities, and we must view them as solvable and work toward those changes. I don’t know if we are set apart from others, but we want to be and are part of a larger community of organizations committed to social justice and investing in and accountable to low-income people.

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Venice Community Housing

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