A student club helps homeless communities in Los Angeles

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The club meets every Thursday at THH 115 at 7 p.m. He plans upcoming projects and educates on issues facing homeless communities in LA (Photo courtesy of Teya Hisel)

During her freshman year, Teya Hisel grew frustrated with USC’s closure in relation to the surrounding community.

“USC really pissed me off,” Hisel said. “I would walk through the doors and have to show my ID after a while – we literally live in a gated community.”

Coming to USC, Hisel knew she wanted to see more community involvement from USC because she feels they are “not doing enough.”

Hisel sought opportunities on campus to get involved, including United Way and the Downtown Women’s Center, and hoped to join the Housing Equity Project, a student organization that promotes housing equity around Los Angeles, but when USC transitioned to remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, the club shut down, and Hisel began thinking about other ways to get involved in championing gender equality lodging.

This semester, alongside Thomas Martynowicz, a sophomore in international relations, and Atharva Tewari, a junior student in journalism and global studies, Hisel created advocaSC, a club that aims to support members of the homeless community of Los Angeles through policy advocacy, education and outreach. and direct services.

“I built advocaSC based on the idea that you can’t do direct service without [also] addressing systemic issues, not addressing politics at the same time and educating people in your community to support those policies and support this service,” said Hisel, a young journalism and global studies student.

The club meets Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at THH 115 to coordinate upcoming projects and learn about the issues faced by the homeless population of Los Angeles. AdvocaSC also shares information flyers on its Instagram profile and gives attendees the opportunity at the end of each meeting to anonymously submit questions about the homelessness crisis to be answered at the next meeting.

In March, the club hosted an event with United Way of Greater Los Angeles Community Activation Specialist Sarah Thomas and LA Family Housing Associate Policy Director Zack Warma to discuss working around the world at non-profit.

Hans Yang, a sophomore majoring in international relations with a focus on global affairs, has attended the meetings since they began in January. Yang said he didn’t know much about homelessness in Los Angeles at first, but decided to find out more because, like other students, he lived in the city for the most most of the year.

“The more I learned about it, the more I realized it was a really serious problem in Los Angeles and across America,” Yang said.

Students like Yang who want to learn more about the homelessness crisis are encouraged to join advocaSC, even if they have no prior knowledge of the issue.

“If you want to join us, then don’t be intimidated. There are so many people here who have come and said, “We have no idea,” Tewari said. “You can come without any basic information and we will educate you. It’s a safe space for that.

Kamy Akhavan, executive director of the USC Center for the Political Future, is the club’s advisor. Although the club is not directly affiliated with any other organization, Hisel said she hopes to partner with CPF and other student organizations in the future.

“A group of us are in Delta Phi Epsilon, the international relations fraternity, a group of us are in the Trojan Democrats, some of us are in other different things. So there’s no specific attachment to anything,” Martynowicz said.

Hisel and Martynowicz met through ECD and were inspired by fellowship meetings to develop their own unique tradition. At the beginning of each meeting, a small stuffed dog is given by the member who received it last to another member whom he wishes to recognize.

“We do this thing in ECD where there are these stuffed foxes and every chapter meeting, whoever has the fox from the last meeting gives it to someone else and recognizes it for something cool that he did or just to be a cool person or whatever,” Hisel mentioned. “I wanted to put our own spin on it.”

Initially, Hisel thought about bringing in a plush apartment complex because the club advocates multi-family homes and the massive construction of affordable housing, but then stumbled upon a kennel full of stuffed dogs and saw the opportunity. ‘a word game.

“I’m a big fan of puns and puns, as you can see from advocaSC,” Hisel said, “I saw it and I was like, ‘Oh my god, we can get the l idea of ​​being in the niche as a good and festive thing because it’s housing policy.

“[AdvocaSC] meetings are a great time with a great community of like-minded people trying to make our community a better place,” Martynowicz said.

“If you’re interested in service, if you’re interested in supporting our homeless neighbors, advocaSC is a great club to get involved with,” Hisel said. “This semester is our first semester, so we’re just getting started. But watch this space, and please get involved.

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