About

Through unwavering leadership, decisive action, and a proven track record of innovation, USC is committed to end the homeless crisis in our city once and for all. We will help lead the way with community partnerships and collaborations on our campuses and throughout the city and county.Director Brenda Wiewel, USC Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness
Director Brenda Wiewel, USC Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness

History

The provost initiative to address the wicked problem of homelessness launched in spring 2016 to define the university’s unique contribution in relation to significant efforts from government, non-profit and business organizations across the region. Working with a steering committee of ten university deans, USC’s programs and research for real-world impact with our community partners provide leverage in five strategic areas:

  • Policy, Service System, and Environmental Change
  • Promote Research/Technical Innovation
  • Respond to USC Student Needs
  • Pipeline Development to Build Prepared Workforce
  • Using our Big Voice to Influence Community Support

Accomplishments

Goals

The Deans Steering Committee has approved the following goals for the USC Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness:

  • Policy, Service System, and Environmental Change
  • Promote Research/Technical Innovation
  • Respond to USC Student Needs
  • Pipeline Development to Build Prepared Workforce
  • Using our Big Voice to Influence Community Support

Research, Innovation, & Leadership Development

Activities to conduct research and provide leadership on behalf of regional homelessness.

  • USC aims to further research ideas and innovations that have potential to be implemented at the university or adopted by the community in areas of housing design, housing development policy, service collaboration, and service models. Examples include:
    • Explore and identify potential funding opportunities to support the housing design project offered through the School of Architecture Design Lab to develop affordable permanent housing
    • In collaboration with the Lusk Real Estate Center and Price Center for Social Innovation, identify boundaries that restrict increased housing supply along with new models of service, finance, and construction
    • Identify and apply metrics to measure the impact of these actions
  • USC plans to enhance students’ training regarding job placement in an effort to meet current and future workforce needs for special skills to help reduce homelessness.
    • Expanded internships, research projects, and courses related to topic, including such special projects as a collaboration between social work and law and a Street Medicine Program
    • Job Recruitment on campus to place students into open positions focused on serving the homeless
  • Our university endeavors to build connections between housed and homeless persons by utilizing resources from USC’s creative arts programs.
    • Collaborate with USC arts, music, dance, cinema, and communications faculty/students and community members to create visual and experiential programs that increase compassionate responses to homelessness
    • Identify and apply metrics to measure the impact of these action
  • USC strives to effectively respond to USC student hunger and homelessness with an innovative model that can inform higher education throughout the region.
    • Develop a university approach, that strengthens the campus community toward greater inclusion, support, and options for students with basic need challenges, and create preventive education to reduce food and housing insecurity.

Leadership

Brenda Wiewel, LCSW, LMFT

Brenda WiewelBrenda Wiewel, LCSW, LMFT is currently Director of the University of Southern California’s Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness. She has helped to design and implement new resources for students on campus to address food and housing insecurity, organized two summit events on campus, coordinated a range of new learning opportunities for students, and supported multiple research efforts in partnership to meet community needs. Previously, she served as Vice President of Behavioral Health for JWCH Institute’s Wesley Health Centers from September 2014 through December 2016, where she helped to design and implement new programs for persons who have been chronically homeless due to multiple complex challenges as well as integrate the agency’s health centers to include mental health and substance abuse screening and treatment services. Prior to that, Ms. Wiewel served for 26 years as Executive Director for a grass roots substance abuse treatment program, Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, which operates outpatient and residential treatment and prevention programs for substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and mental health services. Ms. Wiewel is also past President of the Santa Fe Springs Rotary Club and Chair for the Southern California Social Work Women’s Council. Ms. Wiewel received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California where she is currently working on her doctorate in social work. She can be reached at frankens@usc.edu.