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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 over 260 serving thousands of individuals annually–all free of charge.

View Annual Reports

Step Up Annual Report FY2017-2018

Step Up Annual Report FY2016-2017

Step Up Annual Report FY2015-2016

Step Up Annual Report 2010

An Important Message from Step Up

Dear Supporters, Volunteers and Trusted Community Partners,

We wanted to take a moment to let you know Step Up is actively monitoring the COVID-19 status in the communities we work. We are relieved to report that as of this writing, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Step Up Community. Step Up is taking measures to both protect employees' health and welfare, and to advance its critical mission to serve its most at-risk members. During this time, members will continue to need our support and we expect to continue to provide the exemplary level of support and services we have become known for in our community.

In an abundance of caution, Step Up is taking the following immediate steps to curtail the spread of the virus and to keep its staff, members and volunteers as safe and as healthy as possible during this period of unknown impact:

  • All volunteer activities at all sites are halted for a minimum of two weeks.
  • Managers are empowered to work with staff to curtail activities that may put them or members at risk. This includes the possibility of remote work when feasible, phone or telehealth meetings with members as necessary, avoiding transporting members in personal or company vehicles - the advancement of our mission is paramount;
  • Program staff will be trained on how to utilize company phone apps to effectively communicate with members and each other as necessary;
  • We have asked staff if they or an immediate family member is experiencing flu-like symptoms, to not report to any office location, contact their manager on how to proceed, and seek medical attention immediately.

While many public and private spaces have curtailed operations for the time being, Step Up will remain operational and will continue serving its clients. Again, it is important to note that NO ONE IN THE STEP UP COMMUNITY HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. Our goal is to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Please contact us by email or phone before coming to one of our locations. Support from our community is especially vital now as operations are re-aligned to adhere to our mission while keeping staff, members and volunteers safe. Please consider making a donation as we work through this difficult time. Your contributions in any amount ensure that Step Up will continue serving our most vulnerable neighbors, who are especially vulnerable during this community health crisis. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

Stay safe and healthy,
Tod Lipka
President & CEO