Hollywood Hero Helps the Poorest of the Poor

One man may not have a star on the Walk of Fame — but he’s done much to help the homeless who are living on the streets of Los Angeles.

Anthony Ruffin often starts work at 3 a.m. to assist some of the neediest folks in his part of the country, as the Los Angeles Times reported recently. Ruffin works as a case manager for homelessness outreach organization Housing Works and the Hollywood 14.

“Homelessness is a 24-hour business.”

“Social service is a 9 to 5 business, but homelessness is a 24-hour business,” Ruffin told the LA Times.

Ruffin, 48, has a few dozen clients he checks up on regularly. “They include the Hollywood 14, who are so sick — some of them are barely alive — and have been identified by community leaders as priorities,” the LA Times piece noted. “It isn’t uncommon for Ruffin to find people sitting in their own urine and feces.”

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While many people who live and work in large cities routinely encounter homeless people, most continue on with their day without so much as batting an eye.

Ruffin’s story is different. At age 32, he learned his biological father was homeless; thus began Ruffin’s pursuit to help out this community set apart from the glitz and glam of Hollywood’s finest.

Starting as a janitor for a homeless service center, Ruffin was originally told he was "too stupid to be a case manager." With the help of a mentor and a willingness to go into the messy parts of the city, Ruffin addressed a growing problem.

He told the Times about "the frustration of failing to convince people they need help, or to convince authorities they need to intervene."

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonprofit organization with a goal to prevent and end homelessness in the United States, says that over 560,000 people were homeless in the United States on any given night in January 2015. About 15 percent of the homeless population in this country are considered "chronically homeless" — meaning the individual has a disability partnered with the circumstances of being homeless for a year plus or having four or more episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

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People have taken notice of Ruffin's work.

"He provides the only positive human contact that some of his charges will experience for what remains of their lives," Jennifer Rabuchin from Burbank, California, wrote in a letter to the editor at LA Times. "Having been on the receiving end of the indifference of the tiny minds and stony hearts inherent in the system, he knows what it feels like to be cast out."

While there may be no easy solution to homelessness, Ruffin is doing his part to help so many.

Last Modified: March 10, 2017, 8:18 am

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