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Step Up | About Us
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Step Up’s caring staff work to help individuals reintegrate their daily lives as productive members of their community.

Our Vision

Step Up envisions that all individuals, families, and communities affected by serious mental health issues, and persons who are experiencing chronic homelessness, will have the opportunity to experience recovery and a sense of belonging, and that permanent supportive housing will be available to everyone.

Our Mission

Step Up delivers compassionate support to people experiencing serious mental health issues, and persons who are experiencing chronic homelessness, to help them recover, stabilize, and integrate into the community. Through dynamic partnerships, we provide positive social and learning environments, vocational training, permanent supportive housing opportunities, and recovery services to empower individuals to cultivate lives of hope and dignity. We exercise innovative leadership and advocacy to increase public understanding, support, and acceptance of all people living with serious mental health issues.

Three Pillars of Service

Step Up’s vision and mission are delivered to individuals, including adults, Transitional Age Youth (TAY) between the ages of 16-28 years, and Veterans, through the design of its three pillars of service:

Permanent Supportive Housing | Workforce Development | Member-Driven Supportive Services

Core Values

  • HOPE – We believe all people have the capacity for positive growth and change. We use hope to inspire and motivate ourselves, our members, our colleagues, and our community.
  • WELLNESS – We believe in promoting a culture that supports healthy and fulfilling lives. We use a supportive environment to foster wellbeing for ourselves, our members, our colleagues, and our community.
  • VOICE AND CHOICE – We believe in the right to choose and be heard. We use voice and choice to create meaningful outcomes and empowerment for ourselves, our members, our colleagues, and our community.
  • RESPECT – We believe in promoting interactions that are non-judgmental, transparent, and authentic. We use respect to guide all of our words and actions with ourselves, our members, our colleagues, and our community.
  • COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIPS – We believe in forming partnerships to share resources, knowledge, and experiences. We use collaborative relationships to strengthen accomplishments for ourselves, our members, our colleagues, and our community.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Workforce Development

Member Driven Supportive Services


Step Up, a 501(c)(3) organization, began providing psychosocial rehabilitation and support in 1984 when a woman sought urgently needed mental health services for her loved one. Finding none, and dissatisfied with the status quo, Susan Dempsay took action and started 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.

Staff began observing that many Step Up members were experiencing homelessness, complicating and exacerbating their already complex needs. In 1994, Step Up’s first permanent supportive housing community with 36 units was built. Some of the original tenants are still living in their units today.

In 2020, Step Up has a total of 1000 permanent supportive housing developments and scattered sites in Santa Monica, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and the Southeastern US.


What started humbly in a warehouse shell in Santa Monica is now a thriving community agency with a staff of nearly 300 serving thousands of individuals annually–all free of charge.

Annual Reports

Step Up Annual Report FY2018-2019

Step Up Annual Report FY2017-2018

Step Up Annual Report FY2016-2017

Step Up Annual Report FY2015-2016

Step Up