Mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bi-bolar disorder, and major depression are real, biologically-based conditions that are no one’s fault. The courageous individuals we serve are part of a sobering national picture: 50% of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness also experience mental health issues.
Step Up, a 501(c)3 organization, began providing psychosocial rehabilitation and support in 1984, when a woman’s deep love for a family member caused her to take action and create Step Up on Second. Searching for services and finding very few, founder Susan Dempsay had no choice but to start a center offering services that could not be found anywhere else.
Her vision included a supportive environment with productive activities, including art therapies, supported employment training, coping skills, service coordination, and social connectedness. Family members accessed help through support groups that met every month. Initially, Step Up served approximately 10 individuals a day and offered a limited number of services.
What started humbly in a warehouse shell in Santa Monica is now a thriving community agency serving over 1,800 individuals annually and providing 200 permanent supportive housing units at Step Up on Second, Step Up on Fifth, Step Up on Colorado, Daniel’s Village, Step Up on Vine, Michael’s Village, and The Tammy. Today, over 100 individuals are seen daily and offer over 22 different programs address the issues of the entire individual and provide a continuum of care, all free of charge.
Step Up assists individuals experiencing mental health issues, and young adults who have experienced trauma and are at risk of developing mental health issues through 3 core strategies: