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July 27, 2016

Obituary: Mollie Lowery, Pioneering Advocate for Homeless

Mollie Lowery,a nonprofit leader who spent decades providing hands-on help to people living on the streets of Los Angeles and who pioneered the "housing first" strategy now at the heart of nationwide efforts to tackle homelessness, died Monday at age 70, the Los Angeles Times reports. The cause was cancer, according to a tribute by Times columnist Steve Lopez.

A native Angeleno, Ms. Lowery became a fixture in the city's Skid Row neighborhood as mass discharges from California mental hospitals swelled the homeless population. In 1985, she co-founded Los Angeles Men’s Place, a Skid Row drop-in center that grew into the Lamp Community, which focused on moving people off the streets into permanent supportive housing with counseling and other social services.

Lamp broke ground among charities and government agencies by offering services to people on the street without preconditions. Ms. Lowery was “one of the first people that said that homeless mentally ill people don’t have to be condemned to life on the street," said Mike Neely, chairman of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission. In the decade before her death, she served as director of programs and then executive director of Housing Works, another nonprofit serving the homeless.