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Surviving Homelessness and Foster Care: A Conversation with Mayor Karen Bass and Author David Ambroz

Surviving Homelessness & Foster Care; A conversation with author David Ambroz & Mayor Bass, Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m.

May is National Foster Care Awareness month, a time dedicated to raising awareness for all the children and youth in foster care. In honor of the month, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles is hosting a special conversation with David Ambroz, best-selling author of “A Place Called Home,” based his story surviving homelessness and foster care, and Mayor Karen Bass, the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city’s chief executive. The program is Thursday, May 11, at 7:00 p.m. at Mark Taper Auditorium at the Central Library.

David Ambroz’s book, “A Place Called Home,” is a personal memoir of his family’s survival on the streets of New York City and later through violence in foster care, always with the goal of moving people from empathy to action.

“For homeless kids, life is just brutal. It’s uncomfortable and unhealthy, day after day. It’s a constant state of fear, insecurity, violence, and sickness, and the reprieves are rare. Kids in poverty, may not have my exact story, but their stories are all too similar. And almost nothing has changed,” wrote Amrboz.

“This is a memoir with a mission,” Ambroz told the Buzz. “I meant this as a rousing call for us to do better and take action in our local communities.”

Ambroz is hoping his book, a powerful, personal narrative that describes the huge challenges kids and their families face just trying to stay alive, will inspire readers to get involved to build a more humane and compassionate nation.

“We are civically, locally illiterate and we can’t solve problems if we don’t understand them,” said Ambroz. “The bulk of our governmental response to homelessness occurs at the county level, we need to know who is accountable and hold them to it. We need to be advocates for children and their families.”

As a former chair of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, Ambroz has lots of ideas about housing. More than half of foster youth will experience homelessness when leaving foster care, and less than five percent will secure a higher education degree, continuing the cycle of generational poverty. Ambroz said he would like to free up what he considers the 30 to 50 percent of rent stabilized housing in the city that’s occupied by middle class or rich peoples so it can house poor people. He said he’d also like to see foster kids emancipate into a degree program acquiring a skill certification or vocation or have the chance to transfer to a four-year college with on campus housing prioritized for foster youth.

Amroz lays out his ideas in the afterword of his book.

“While writing this book, my publishing team and my friends would ask me what I wanted people to do after reading my story. They asked, “what can we do?” I love that question because (as you’ve probably figured out by now) I didn’t write this book just to share the hurdles I faced in my escape from poverty. I wrote my story with a deep hope that you will be motivated to do something. I want you to use your vote. We must vote to center the well-being and success of these most vulnerable, our children in our politics. We can “solve,” at least in part, the tragedy of youth in poverty by reforming foster care. Right now our foster care system is better than it’s ever been. We still need funatblemtn change, but we are strengthening a worthwhile system, not starting from scratch,” wrote Ambroz.

Is he hopeful?, we asked.

“Relentlessly optimistic,” Ambroz told the Buzz. “We are dealing with homelessness, we can’t avoid it, it’s front and center everywhere we look.” Ambroz says he sees remarkable people doing great work to stem the flow of people into poverty and homelessness by helping foster kids.

Ambroz and Bass will be in person at the Central Library. The program is free. In person tickets are sold, out but you can click here to reserve a ticket to attend virtually.

Thursday, May 11, 7:00PM
Mark Taper Auditorium – Central Library 6
30 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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