Southern California Lutheran Social Services.

Numerous needs can be met by Lutheran Social Services of Southern California. The charity organization administers dozens of assistance programs and resources for low income, struggling, and less fortunate families. They operate centers across the entire region. Offices are located in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange County.

Thousands of volunteers also work with Lutheran Social Services. Together they offer emergency financial assistance for needs such as rent, food, and utilities. Other non-monetary type programs include counseling, job search assistance, home repairs, and support for seniors, homeless and the disabled in southern California. Note that the exact resources offered will vary by office and they also depend on donations and government grants, so aid will change and is limited.

Housing resources in southern California

The northern Los Angeles County branch of Lutheran Social Services run the ESSP housing program. They oversee this on behalf of the city and county and funding comes from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA, as well as the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).

It provides short term shelter at a local hotel or motel to individuals or families. The reason that temporary shelter is offered is so that the participant can focus on looking for full time employment. This will then lead to self-sufficiency and the family then moving into transitional or permanent housing.

Applicants will need to be referred to these housing services through Case Managers at local area DPSS offices. After receiving a voucher from Lutheran Social Services, participating families will also have access to job search assistance and other employment services through LSS case managers as well as their GAIN workers.

When they are ready to move into permanent housing, rental assistance or funds for paying security deposits may be offered. They will also receive monies for paying move-in expenses, furniture, appliances and other partial rental payments. Additional services that are part of ESSP include laundry, phone charging stations along, gently used clothing, free food, and diapers. Also get referrals to assistance with dental, medical and vision care, employment, utility bill help and even assistance in paying for California IDs.




Residents of Casa de Canoga, Deco Nordhoff, and Simpson Arbor apartments may receive help from the Residential Support Services Program. These units are located in the San Fernando Valley of California. The Lutheran Services case manager provides assistance with tax preparation, answers Medicare/medical questions, food stamp assistance, and can help people apply for unemployment. Other services available are job assistance and computer labs; free medical care such as eye exams; information regarding the San Fernando Valley neighborhood Legal Services; utility bill assistance; information about the California Department of Social Services; and Community Enhancement Services (HEAP).  Another focus is on offering residents rent help and eviction prevention plans.

Caring Neighbors is a Lutheran Services housing program that will allow disabled persons and seniors to continue to live independently in their own apartments and homes. All clients for these housing units need to meet federal government HUD low income guidelines. Additional support may be offered and include minor home repair, escorted transportation, yard work and Shared Housing, which will match seniors and disabled for housing needs. Funding for these southern California Lutheran Program is primarily through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and secondarily through group, individual and organizational donations. 9735 Halberns Blvd., Santee, CA 92071, phone number is (619) 448-1880.

Mid to long term transitional housing and living is provided for women with children who are on the path to self-sufficiency and who are already on track towards independent living. The program can transition clients to permanent housing in Riverside County and nearby regions. Lutheran Services will also provide them with needed life skills, employment opportunities, and resolution of issues that hinder self-sufficiency.

Transitional housing will also include intensive case management on a regular weekly/monthly basis and be linked with other government assistance programs or services, thereby creating a comprehensive approach to self-sufficiency. Southern California Lutheran Social Services provides Outreach Services (low income housing), Emergency Food/Clothing Distribution, Transportation, and even Rent / Mortgage Assistance.

Port Hueneme California has its own separate Transitional Living Program. This is provided for a maximum of 4 months. The goal is to transition clients to stability and permanent housing. It will also include case management on a regular basis. (805) 497-6207.

Lutheran Social Services financial support and basic needs

Lutheran Social Services food pantries give direct distribution of food and groceries to needy clients, including low income families and the homeless. If you are approved after an interview process, the family will be given a free food bag with a nutritionally balanced make up of groceries, canned goods, and fruits or vegetables. Clients from southern California are eligible for food assistance up to once a month, and the homeless from the area can receive lunches once a week.




Clothing Centers in southern California will give each qualified client an allotment for free clothes items for each member of their family. It may pass out blankets during the winter months, holiday gifts at Christmas, infant care items for newborns, and toiletry items for individuals or families. The clothing center also has a limited selection of small household items, children’s toys, and books.

Holiday Programs - LSS of southern California provides free Christmas gifts, baskets and toys to children of all age groups. Assistance is for families who are at or below federal government poverty levels.  Staff and volunteers will assess the needs of each family and distribute accordingly.

Utility Bill and Gas Assistance is available in partnership with other non-profits such as the Salvation Army, the United Way, and community action agencies. Southern California Lutheran Social Services will refer people to Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and also process applications for the United Way ’s assistance program for Southern California Gas Company.

In Long Beach and Los Angeles California, the Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Program can provide clients with short term crisis needs such as free food and clothing, transportation as well as assistance with hygiene and grooming items, free blankets and quilts. Staff will also enroll low income clients into case management and offer referrals to non-profit community agencies for needs such as medical and mental health treatment, substance abuse, and other resources.

People requesting Comprehensive Emergency Assistance may be elderly, disabled or living on limited pensions. Other clients are unemployed, homeless veterans or veterans requesting assistance with basic needs and referrals; people with no or limited income; those working low paying jobs; people that are unable to afford basic living expenses; children, the elderly, and others in need of counseling, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment.

The Lutheran Services Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Program is also the main focal point of intake for other programs including Preparation for Employment Program, the Hispanic Outreach Project, and support for Elders and their Families. During the applicants intake, the applicants situations are assessed and the appropriate programs or services are offered to them. A referral may be made to an outside resource in Los Angeles or San Diego if need be.

Financial aid for bills and rent is also offered by the Long Beach Center of Lutheran Social Services. Clients may also receive funds for paying utility bills through Southern California Edison, referrals to community organizations, resources providing rent help, shelter, employment, counseling, welfare and other benefits. The charity also directs clients to free legal help, medical assistance, psychiatric, dental and mental health treatment, and other social service agencies.

In Garden Grove California, the assistance offered is in the form of food bags given to needy and low income families to help make balanced meals. Boxes of groceries are also available for the homeless and those living in motels. 12432 Ninth Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840, 714-534-6450.

Another very similar resource is the Project Hand Emergency Assistance. It will help clients in the process of moving from poverty toward self-sufficiency. Those seeking help tend to be homeless, unemployed, without health insurance, out of jail or rehab, or needing emergency assistance for other reasons. This emergency assistance is offered at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (Chula Vista) as well as Lemon Grove Lutheran Church. 580 Hilltop Dr., Chula Vista, CA 91910, 619-425-4061.





Motel or Hotel Vouchers is a form of emergency assistance that is generally coupled with other support. Clients will gain access to case management and also emergency rental or mortgage. The vouchers are meant to provide time to clients while they transition and await availability of new housing property.

Transportation assistance and vouchers in the form of bus passes are available monthly upon request. This will only be for local needs and include things such as a job interview. Free gasoline vouchers are available to low income clients for medical, employment or education appointments.

Riverside County families may qualify for separate Rental or Mortgage Assistance. This is for families facing a one time crisis. They also need to have an eviction or foreclosure notice in order to get help from Lutheran Social Services. This program serves low income families and individuals in portions of Riverside County.

Lutheran Social Services in Camarillo and Ventura County also supports residents of those communities. Financial aid, referrals, food, and other support is available.

Case Management involves staff and volunteers meeting with clients on a one-on-one basis either monthly or weekly to resolve ongoing issues is available. Any goals are agreed and will be set and monitored until the client reaches a stable place where they can thrive independently.

Housing, short term rental and energy bill assistance is offered in the form of eviction prevention serves low income families and individuals. The charity will also work to offer assistance to all Ventura County residents with gas and electric bills. (805) 497-6207.

Thousand Oaks and Conejo Valley residents have access to a free Food Pantry. Special dietary concerns are even met by Lutheran Services if possible. The pantry will also have free Thanksgiving baskets and meals for families and individuals in need in the Conejo Valley area. Last, but not least, the Adopt a Family Christmas Program provides gifts and toys for children of low income families.

In Conejo Valley, there is the Meal and Shelter Program will provide the homeless with a free meal, an overnight shelter, and other support. This can also offer funds to pay for housing costs such as rent. This assistance is available for eviction prevention. This serves low income and working poor families and individuals in the Conejo Valley California. An intake and interview process will need to take place.

Other Lutheran Social Services (LSS) programs are as follows:

  • For youth and children, they can receive Enrichment programs, work, and counseling.
  • Disabled may explore Health Education, Vocational Training, English as Second Language (ESL), and  Employment Services.
  • Additional crisis assistance is for groceries, water bills, Emergency Shelters, Homeless Service, Home Repair, Eviction Prevention and Housing Referrals.
  • Help for seniors is Home Repairs, Local Transportation, Senior Companion Program, and assistance for Elders and their Families.
  • Transitional Housing is coordinated by Lutheran Social Services. The units include Genesis House and Amelia’s Light.




Case management and referrals

Helping clients meet their long term financial goals is a key to becoming economically independent. There are various job training and education centers operated by Lutheran Social Services in the region, including classes that offer a Computer Lab as well as Education and Training Centers. Site are in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Ventura, as well as other counties. Services and workshops offered are a money-management, fiscal literacy class and one on one training. The Computer Lab provides students and job seekers with a variety of computer classes from beginners to advanced students. Call (818) 901-9480.

Family Source Specialized Services Program will help poor, seniors, low-income families access public and government benefits for which they are eligible. This includes things such as income tax credits, low-cost auto insurance, food stamps, WIC, subsidized health insurance, and help with filing tax returns. (818) 901-9480

Outreach, Housing Assistance, and Referral Services will direct people to appropriate resource to meet their rent and housing needs. If Lutheran Services is unable to provide financial assistance they will their best to offer support through a strong referral network of agencies in Los Angeles, Orange County, and other area.  The charity will serve the following needs such as housing, medical services, emergency shelters, food, employment, welfare care, mental health, education, vocation, legal services, and human services.

Locations of Lutheran centers in southern California

The main offices are noted below. What is available at each Lutheran Social Services center or church will vary. The information above is only a sampling.

-San Gabriel-Los Angeles, LSSCCC – Avanti, 60 North Daisy Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91107, phone number 626-564-0191
-80 E. Hillcrest Dr Suite 101, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, 805-497-6207
-LSS-CCC Long Beach/South Bay, 1611 Pine Ave., Long Beach, CA 90813, dial (562) 599-1321
-Orange County, St. Olaf Lutheran Church, 12432 Ninth Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840, office: (714) 534-6450
-San Bernardino County, LSS-CCC San Bernardino 801, 41945 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear, CA 92315, Phone: (909) 866-5070
-LSS-CCC Apple Valley Office, 18231 Highway 18 Suite 7, Apple Valley, CA 92307, (760) 961-0250
-Barstow Office, 405 E. Buena Vista Street, Barstow, CA 92311, main phone: (760) 256-7279
-LSS-CCC Crestline Office, 601 S. Lee Burt Way, Crestline, CA 92325, call (909) 810-2433
-San Diego County, 4271 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92117, (858) 483-4005
-Project Hand Emergency Assistance Program, Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, 580 Hilltop Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910, (619) 425-4061
-Carlton Hills Lutheran Church, 9735 Halberns Blvd., Santee, CA 92071, main phone (619) 448-1888
-Riverside County, Central (Genesis House), 3772 Taft Street, Riverside, California 92503, (951) 689-7847
-60 Corridor of Riverside (Amelia’s Light), 23310 Meyer Drive, #4, Riverside, California 92518, call (951) 656-6020
-LSS Riverside, 3772 Taft Street, Riverside, CA 92503, call (951) 689-7847
-Amelia’s Light – 087, 23310 Meyer Road, Riverside, CA 92518, call (951) 656-6020
-Ventura County, LSS-CCC, 80 E. Hillcrest #101, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, Phone: 805-497-6207
Fax: 805-497-2607

By Jon McNamara

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