California

‘One-Woman Solution' to Homelessness in Long Beach Has Personally Helped Hundreds Find Housing

“If human beings aren’t productive and have purpose, they don’t thrive. My goal is get them to thrive -- not just park them somewhere so no one will have to look at them," Christine Barry said.

NBCLA

A 71-year-old retiree has helped hundreds of people off the streets in Long Beach.

She calls it a labor of love, and that keeps her going. 

She says as the number of unhoused people grows in Long Beach, her approach might be a better solution to ultimately eliminate the problem.

Christine Barry knows most of the people along the river in Long Beach by their first name.

"These are real people in a lot of pain," Barry said.

Jo Musgrove is just one of hundreds still on Barry's list as she tries to help people, not just into homes but into productive lives.

"I’m 65 years old. I shouldn’t be out here," Musgrove said.

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“If human beings aren’t productive and have purpose, they don’t thrive. My goal is get them to thrive -- not just park them somewhere so no one will have to look at them," Barry said.

 And her success rate is high.

She posts each win on Facebook, like when she helped Sarah, who is blind, get an apartment, or when she got 72-year-old Trinia into a motel.

But it’s not just about housing. She helped Walter get admitted into rehab, and got Gregorio and his son Nonah medical care for burns.

"One guy is in bible college," Barry said.

Barry, with 40 years of counseling and chemical dependency counseling under her belt, is a firm believer that housing only works when the underline issues of why people are homeless to begin with are addressed first. 

"If we are not providing those services, they are not going to stay off the streets, even if you get them off," Barry said.

Barry uses privately-raised money through a GoFundMe page.

Over four years, she raised more than $100,000 and used all of it to get people help and homes.

 She puts the emphasis on help first. She thinks that’s key to solving the problem once and for all.

She hopes cities like Long Beach and Los Angeles that are spending millions of dollars on housing first will focus more on the underlying problems and create programs to inspire the homeless to start dreaming and working for themselves.  

"If you believe in somebody and help support them and lift them up, they will take it from there, but you just have to help them get there," she said.

She really thinks it will get the vast majority of people off the streets for good.

But she is also a firm believer that laws have to be enforced to address the drug and theft problems that plague homeless communities and surrounding communities everywhere.

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