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Pair of cyclists off to D.C. for homeless awareness


Will pedal 3,500 miles

The two leaders of Hope the Mission in North Hills embarked on an ambitious journey this week, pedaling away on a planned 3,500-mile bike ride to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness and mobilize support for efforts to fight homelessness.

Rowan Vansleve, president of Hope the Mission, and Ken Craft, the facility’s founder and CEO, were given a party-like send off Tuesday as they began their lengthy ride, during which they plan to advocate for homelessness programs while also meeting with people in other cities in hopes of evaluating programs that might be successful locally.

“We’re going to be interviewing folks in each of these major cities,” Craft told KCAL9. “And I want to hear from them. What’s working in your city? What’s not working in your city? And how can we implement best practices across the country to put an end to this humanitarian crisis.”

The duo plans to record much of their journey and interactions with people across the country and compile a documentary highlighting efforts nationally to take on homelessness, and gain a better understanding of what’s needed to combat the issue.

Neither Vansleve nor Craft are experienced bike riders, but they began training for the trip last year. They hope to complete the ride by May 6, when they plan to discuss their journey with lawmakers in Washington and call on them to commit funding to fight homelessness.

“This is a national problem,” Vansleve told reporters. “We need to be bike messengers like those couriers you see whipping around New York. But we’re going to bring a message from L.A. to Washington, D.C., because we need a federal response.”

Hope the Mission is billed as the nation’s largest rescue mission, providing services to combat poverty, hunger and homelessness. The mission includes more than 30 facilities and 2,700 shelter beds.