Step Up envisions a world in which all individuals, families, and communities affected by serious mental health conditions 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.


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.


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, which complicated and exacerbated 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.

Step Up currently provides more than 2,000 permanent supportive housing units in developments and scattered sites throughout California, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. Hundreds more are in development across the US. 

What started humbly in a warehouse shell in Santa Monica is now a thriving community agency with hundreds of staff serving thousands of individuals…


CA / FL / NC / TN / GA


Step Up’s vision and mission are delivered to individuals, including adults, Transition-Age Youth (TAY) between the ages of 18-28 years, and Veterans, through the design of its three pillars of service:

Permanent supportive housing

Step Up uses the Housing First model to connect individuals experiencing chronic homelessness to housing. Housing First is a proven approach in which all individuals experiencing homelessness are believed to be housing-ready.

supportive services

Step Up creates opportunities for social connectedness through member-driven support groups, movie nights, cooking, community dinners, and gardening. In addition, there are classes offered such as art, yoga, computer basics, and money management.

workforce development

Step Up’s vocational mission is that everyone who wants to work should work. Services include: Pre-vocational training, resume building, community job seeking and placement, in-the-field job coaching, work experience, focused training, and peer support training.




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Step Up commits to foster and advance an accessible, inclusive, diverse, and equitable culture with the following promise:



We rise to elevate understanding, cultivate growth, and strengthen relationships towards continual progression.



We engage our community, advocate and lift barriers to foster opportunities for all.



We embrace individuality and social identities to ensure belonging for all, acknowledging and addressing the desperate or unequal impacts of systemic discrimination on historically marginalized groups.



We honor the rich diversity of our community and instill diverse perspectives through mutual understanding in all aspects of our organization.



We recognize people don’t start at the same place; we actively promote transparency and increase opportunities for growth, fairness, and equality by meeting individual needs.

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