Charissa Koh

Charissa is a WORLD reporter who often writes about poverty fighting and prison reform, including profiling ministries in the annual Hope Awards for Effective Compassion competition. She is also a part of WORLD's investigative unit, the Caleb Team. Charissa resides with her husband, Josh, in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter @CharissaKoh.

Associated Press/Photo by Mark J. Terrill (file)

A bridge back to the streets?

Compassion | Los Angeles’ new homeless program sends more people back to the streets than to permanent housing
by Charissa Koh
Posted 12/02/20, 05:32 pm

During the coronavirus pandemic, residents of Venice, a hip beach neighborhood in Los Angeles, complained of increasing crime and homeless encampments, especially around a nearby “bridge” shelter. Parents told stories of taking their children to school and passing homeless men exposing themselves.

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Sidelined senior centers

Compassion | Pandemic closures leave the elderly without important services
by Charissa Koh
Posted 11/25/20, 01:21 pm

When the first case of COVID-19 hit Austin, Texas, in mid-March, Meals on Wheels of Central Texas closed the 15 senior recreation and activity centers it operated. About half of the centers’ 1,600 clients live below the poverty line, according to program coordinator Sarah McKenna. Many of them come in for warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the hot Texas summers.

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Johnny Hanson/Genesis

Sleeping it off

Health | Sobering centers are a new model to help cities handle public intoxication and provide addicts with treatment opportunities, yet some worry they may enable bad behavior
by Charissa Koh
Posted 11/19/20, 02:41 pm

In 2014, Brian Sakaluk was homeless in Houston, addicted to alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Though Sakaluk grew up in a Roman Catholic family, he smoked cigarettes with friends as a preteen and then tried alcohol and drugs. As an adult he missed work due to hangovers and was fired from multiple jobs. He spent several nights in the county jail for public intoxication and eventually ended up sleeping under a bridge.

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