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2691 Richter Ave., STE 107, Irvine CA 92606

Media Contact: April Rios |

73,432 Homeless in Southern California and Growing…

 “Are We Doing Enough to End Homelessness?” – National Front-Runners in Homelessness to Share Their Innovative Approach and Solutions

Irvine, CA – Illumination Foundation (IF), the Orange County-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless clients to break or prevent the cycle of homelessness, will host a panel presentation titled Are We Doing Enough to End Homelessness? on Thursday, February 8, 2018. Dr. James J. O’Connell and Robert Watts, two of the national front-runners in homelessness, will join forces to address the growing homeless crisis in Orange County, especially focusing on the integration of health care and housing.

The half day panel will take place at Christ Cathedral Campus, Cultural Center Freed Theater – 13280 Chapman Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92840, at 8:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. More details and tickets at:

Dr. James J. O’Connell, Founder and President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and Robert Watts, CEO of National Health Care for the Homeless Council, two of the most influential advocates for the homeless will share their innovative perspective as California’s housing instability hits an all-time high. Watts and O’Connell were among the first in the country to begin addressing health care needs first and applying an integrative approach to help the most vulnerable homeless.

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A panel with both speakers and additional advocates for our most vulnerable homeless neighbors. Pooja Bhalla, Executive Vice President Of Programs at Illumination Foundation, and Dr. Geeta Grover, Pediatric Behaviorist at CHOC and UC Irvine Health, will accompany the two speakers in the panel.

“Orange County is in a crisis situation with homelessness at an all-time high,” says Illumination Foundation CEO Paul Leon. “It’s time for all of us to transition from blame dialogue to implementation of real action solutions. Silver bullet remedies do not exist. Renowned advocates like Dr. Jim J. O’Connell and Bobby Watts can guide us in the right direction.”

Dr. James J. O’Connell, known as Boston’s only doctor making house calls to the homeless, is the 32-year initiator behind national sweeping changes in homeless care. Dr. O’Connell and his vast team of clinicians work to provide high-quality health care services through 400 clinics in more than 60 locations in Boston.

O’Connell’s team is also behind the world’s first “Vulnerability Index,” initially developed in the 1990s upon recognizing that the homeless death rate was higher than any other group in the country. O’Connell’s Boston-based team was also the first to implement electronic medical records (EMR) for the homeless to better coordinate their care across hospitals, shelter clinics and street-team medical and psychiatry work.

Robert Watts began his work 30 years ago at the New York City Rescue Mission in Manhattan and has since worked tirelessly with government and private institutions to implement services and resources to all 50 states.

“Coming from New York City, with the largest shelter system and largest supportive housing community, I hope to bring my 30 years of experience – especially concerning the integration of health care and housing – to help Orange County’s work to eliminate homelessness,” says Watts.

“When we’re able to provide housing and comprehensive health care support, we’re finding that the combination is helping us break through the homelessness cycle,” adds Watts. “We’re going to map more of that out in our February 8th presentation.”


About Illumination Foundation: Illumination Foundation is an Orange County-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless clients to break or prevent the cycle of homelessness. Illumination Foundation pioneered an innovative and cost-effective solution to advance health and housing stability for the chronically homeless community. To date, Illumination Foundation’s housing programs have served 7,843 families and have provided medical and social services to over 20,000 individuals. For more information, visit

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