CCERP (Community Centered Emergency Room Project)


Community Resource Guide

Throughout the United States, many emergency rooms have become the “place of last resort” for homeless people seeking relief from the streets. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on any given night in the country, there are more than 610,000 homeless people. Of these individuals, 65% are residing in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 35% are living in locations not designed for human habitation. For many, the hospital emergency room is not only a safe refuge but a place to get a hot meal, clothing, shower, and social support -- the basic Maslow hierarchy of needs we all require. The utilization of these resources comes at exorbitant costs both to the institutions and to the patients whose long-term health needs remain unmet.

To this end, on February 1, 2013, the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (DPH-SAPC) awarded Social Model Recovery Systems, Inc. (SMRS) a grant to establish a community prevention project surrounding Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center (LAC+USC MC) entitled: Community Centered Emergency Room Project (CCERP). The project’s two-pronged approach is to provide targeted outreach to the Needs Special Assistance (NSA) population to establish linkages and enhance community engagement in order to reduce risk factors. Addressing the factors that shape health and safety outcomes can reduce overcrowding in the emergency room and simultaneously increase positive health results. The results of the Needs Assessment Survey were reported in April, 2014.

The issues associated with the homeless population in the LAC+USC MC and surrounding community present an opportunity to develop steps toward building a sense of community beyond boundaries of residency status. Our goal is to stimulate discussion and inspire public debate about the issues of poverty, lack of affordable housing, health and safety impacting our communities, and the need to capitalize on emerging approaches. These approaches depend heavily on authentic voices of the community engaged in efforts to improve their community and shape health outcomes. 

This grassroots approach recognizes the accumulated knowledge of individuals, be they homeless or not, and builds on the reciprocal relationships needed to succeed collectively. In addition, to address excessive non-emergency visits by homeless members of the community, the health care system should expand its paradigm and promote prevention initiatives that address community risk factors while also enhancing access to primary health care.

According to HUD, homelessness in Los Angeles County increased 15% (57,737) between 2011 and 2013. Similarly, the area surrounding LAC+USC MC has also seen an increase in its homeless population. Although difficult to know the exact number of homeless people residing in this community, the makeshift shelters, mattresses, and the accumulation of belongings at underpasses and elsewhere reveal their presence. The exact causes and risk factors of homelessness differ across the population, however, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority suggests that high housing costs coupled with a vast number of people earning incomes that fall near or below the poverty level are prominent contributors to the rise of homelessness.


Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles County, is geographically situated between Chinatown, Commerce, Downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, and Vernon. Boyle Heights spans 6.52 square miles and is predominantly comprised of people of Latino descent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of 2011, the population of 94,000 in Boyle Heights is notably youthful, with a median age of 28.3 years.

The Los Angeles Times profile for Boyle Heights shows there are 25 public and 10 private schools serving the area. Boyle Heights is considered to be a low income neighborhood with 38.6% of households averaging less than $20K a year in annual income, and a median household income of $32K as noted in the U.S Census Bureau of 2011. Because of the cultural diversity of the residents, Boyle Heights is a space and place imbued with social, cultural, and historical meaning for the people that have established their livelihoods there. However, it is not a community without challenge. Per the Los Angeles Times, between September 2, 2013, and March 2, 2014, there were 102 violent crimes reported per 10,000 persons of Boyle Heights, which is higher than the neighboring areas of Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, and Downtown Los Angeles.

Lincoln Heights sits immediately north of Boyle Heights and is also surrounded by El Sereno, Chinatown, Elysian Park, Cypress Park, and Montecito Heights neighborhoods. Lincoln Heights’ origin dates back to the 1880s. It is one of the first neighborhoods in Los Angeles. According to the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, there are an estimated 30,000 residents living within its 2.5 square miles. The Los Angeles Times profile for Lincoln Heights reports that residents are predominantly of Latino heritage (58%), but a sizeable proportion is of Asian descent (16.3%). The Los Angeles Times profile also shows that Lincoln Heights is a fairly young community, with a median age of 27 years and an average income of $30K, considered low for LA County; the area is served by 9 public and 4 private schools. Additionally, the area is not free of crime. For example, per the Los Angeles Times profile, between September 2, 2013, and March 2, 2014, there were 94 violent crimes per 10,000 people reported in Lincoln Heights.


To volunteer your time, or for more information, email

2118 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Tel: 323.859.8443
Fax: 323.859.8447