After undergoing extensive renovations, adding new furniture, and opening its doors to homeless pregnant women, the Pico Home was just missing one more thing: a blessing.
On Friday, Aug. 19, Archbishop José H. Gomez visited the former convent in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles to do the honors himself.
“It’s a gift beyond what we could have ever imagined,” said Sarah Wilson, executive director for Harvest Home, a local nonprofit residential program that operates the home.
The opening of the home, made possible through a partnership between the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace (OLJP) and Harvest Home, comes amid a renewed focus on helping pregnant women and their babies after the recent U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Mississippi ruling, which overturned the federal right to abortion given by Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health estimated that some 5,000 women are homeless at some point during their pregnancies in the county. But in the city of Los Angeles, there are reportedly only 70 shelter beds for women who are pregnant and in crisis. And plans from state lawmakers to make California a “sanctuary” for out-of-state women seeking abortions only adds to the urgency.
The 18-bedroom residence is Harvest Home’s second in the Los Angeles area, and is being leased from the archdiocese for $100 a month. Two babies have already been born to guest mothers at the house since opening earlier this summer.
“Harvest Home stands in the gap to provide vital housing and critical service to these pregnant women who are in crisis and have few options for housing and support,” said Wilson. “We are honored to open the Pico Home to triple our reach.”
That Friday morning, Archbishop Gomez sprinkled holy water as he walked through the building’s halls and rooms, including two larger rooms for pregnant mothers with other, older children, some already in school.
The Pico Home offers what staff call “wraparound care” that goes beyond shelter and includes things like cooking lessons and counseling for the single mothers.
According to OLJP senior director Michael Donaldson, it’s about “making sure that these moms are successful in entering the world.”
“It’s a regaining of their human dignity, and their purpose in society … that they have a place in this world,” said Donaldson.
Archbishop Gomez said he was glad to see the fruits of the collaboration in person, calling it “a beautiful work of compassion and care for our most vulnerable neighbors.
“Let us continue to pray for these women and their children and let us continue to commit ourselves to building a Los Angeles where every life is cherished and protected,” he added.
For more information about the Pico Home, including donation and volunteer opportunities, visit HarvestHomeLA.org.