We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Rosenbaum and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brian, how does your business help the community?
My nonprofit, Imagine LA, envisions a future where the generational cycles of poverty and homelessness are a thing of the past.

Family homelessness in L.A. grew by a staggering 46% from 2019 to 2020. There were nearly 13,000 families with children experiencing homelessness prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and researchers believe that our current economic crisis may result in up to 600,000 additional people losing their homes.

Homelessness is a complex problem that cannot be solved by housing alone. Job instability and loss, domestic violence, becoming a parent early in life or without a partner, and limited support from extended family and social networks, all contribute to an individual family’s housing stability. Furthermore, vulnerable families often cycle in and out of homelessness over generations, due to the fact that the system is not designed to support meaningful economic mobility. This is especially true for households led by unpartnered parents, women, and people of color.

Imagine LA’s model is a highly individualized and collaborative one. Our whole-family support and economic mobility programing serve as tools to address the root causes of poverty and help families escape the poverty trap and cycle of family homelessness. We also leverage caring, committed volunteers from the community to partner with families, building meaningful social connections that benefit families and volunteers alike.

In 2021, we worked with 208 families (including 696 individuals), providing them with the individualized support they need to meet their personal goals, build family wellbeing, and emerge from the pandemic prepared for the future.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My greatest professional learning in the last two decades of nonprofit and community experience, made only more clear by the pandemic, is how interconnected we all are. MLK called it the “inescapable network of mutuality,” the “single garment of destiny.” Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries uses the phrase “radical kinship” to describe the “exquisite mutuality of our common nobility and shared dignity.” It is what grounds my work as a mezzo social worker, not providing therapy or doing policy work, but working at the community nonprofit and partnership level to create the spaces for folks to maximize their human potential. We are all interdependent. And as a white man, I recognize that obliges a lot of me. It means that I can never be fully free until Black, brown, Asian, native, gay, bi, women, trans, disabled, neurodiverse, poor, refugee – are free. It is why I wake up every morning and do the work of ending the cycle of family poverty and homelessness.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love LA. If I’m hosting some out-of-town visitors (with kids) for one day of fun and sun, here’s where I’m taking them, with a focus on the food and family-friendly playgrounds. We start the day picking up pastries and coffee at Republique and heading up to Pan Pacific Park (lower playground) so the kids can burn off some energy. For lunch, Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada in Los Feliz, and roll over to Griffith Park Rec Center Playground to eat. Crawling distance from there, we do an easy urban hike along the LA River via Sunnynook River Park and Pedestrian Bridge (kids love bridges). After a nap at home, dinner is at Mama Lu’s in Monterey Park (the best Chinese dumplings in LA). If it’s not too cold out, we can take the food to-go and eat at Almansor Park in Alhambra (bring some oats to feed the ducks). If the kids can handle it, wrap up the night with a cold one at Ohana Brewing Company in Downtown Alhambra.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My story is dedicated to every student or family I’ve served in my nonprofit career. In my journey, I’ve worked with Latino parents whose children had cancer, families with children at risk of being removed from their home, middle schoolers in the South Bronx, high school seniors and first-gen college students, families emerging from homelessness, and more. In every role, I saw their courage in the face of poverty, broken systems, racism and sexism, and systemic oppression. Their resilience inspired and motivates me today to bring my best self to my work and life.

Website: www.brianrosenbaum.org

Instagram: www.instagram.com/bdrinla

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bdrinla/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bdrinla

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