For the past 20 years, Linda Lera-Randle El has dedicated herself to helping those who are homeless and suffer from mental health and/or substance abuse issues. After leaving the MASH Crisis Intervention Center in 1997, where she served as Director, Mrs. Lera-Randle El continued her work with the homeless population, concentrating her efforts once again on those people who were living on the streets of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. She is the person who brought street outreach to the forefront of homeless services and through her efforts, many other agencies came to realize the value of this type of outreach and have begun to participate in the same type of work.
On October 31, 2001, Mrs. Lera-Randle El incorporated a nonprofit organization, Straight from the Streets. Working out of her own vehicle and without pay, she spends many long hours driving to remote areas of the valley searching for people who are homeless. She introduces herself to them and assesses their needs. Many times it takes several encounters for her to gain someone’s trust and to bring them to the point where she can begin the long and often frustrating process of transitioning them off the streets and into stable housing. She does not work a 40-hour week and can often be found bringing food, blankets and personal hygiene items to her clients on the weekends and in the evenings. She knows that homelessness does not end each day at 5:00 pm.
Mrs. Lera-Randle El picks up her clients at their campsites and takes them to their appointments as opposed to merely referring them to social services or the security office. She helps them fill out the complicated paperwork, and helps her clients get replacement identification cards and other important items. Mrs. Lera-Randle El also helps clients find apartments, move in and continues to check on them during their transition. She walks them through the process of getting mental health counseling and treatment and has had tremendous success in getting people who are severely mentally ill into long term treatment and stable housing. Because of her dedication and success, Mrs. Lera-Randle El has been featured in many newspaper articles and on television news reports.
Mrs. Lera-Randle El is a unique person who works with people in a non-judgmental manner. Her street wise, no nonsense approach comes from many years of direct experience with the homeless population and a personal background that gives her insight enjoyed by few other advocates. She measures her success on the lives she touches and the hope and new lives she brings to her clients. She is not paid for her serve and uses all donations for supplies, food and services she provides for her clients. Because of the total support of her loving husband, “Chicago,” she is able to dedicate herself to those in need in Las Vegas.