Community Rallies to Help Former Executive Chef Living on Skid Row

Goal of organizers is to raise enough funds for future costs of permanent housing

By Dolores Quintana

Former restaurateur Chef Clive Jackson, who was the executive chef and owner of Brownstone Bistro in Midcity until 2019, was recently found cold and shivering in the torrential rains that were deluging the city by Lizzy Calhoun, an organizer for Food Not Bombs DTLA. This story is a cautionary tale about how easy it is for anyone to become unhoused and reminds us to have sympathy and show humanity to those who are on the streets. 

Calhoun started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise enough money to find Mr. Jackson permanent housing and get him off the streets. The goal of the campaign is $50,000 and has made excellent progress in the three days since it has been active, raising $44,930 in assistance for the chef. Originally, they meant to raise funds to get him a hotel room, but the volume of donations has raised their hopes that they could change his life in a more permanent way. You can read more about the campaign and donate here

Calhoun told the story on the campaign page, which said, “We showed up at Gladys Park on Saturday, February 25 for our Food Not Bombs serve to find Clive soaked and shivering in the freezing rain with no shelter & no coat. His makeshift tent on 6th Street had collapsed in the storm last night and poured water all over him & his belongings.

We put him in the car with the heater on and drove to Target to get some dry clothes. As we drove, he told me through tears what had happened and how he never thought that it could get this bad. A few minutes later, he fell asleep, exhausted, snoring quietly as we drove downtown.

Clive has only been on the streets for a year. He was the owner & Executive Chef of Brownstone Bistro in Mid City until 2019. Originally from Jamaica, Clive is known for his Caribbean-inspired soul food & was featured on Gordon Ramsey’s “24 Hours To Hell & Back” (S1E3) just a few years ago when the restaurant was struggling. IG: @brownstonelosangeles

After the murder of his son, a divorce and the loss of his restaurant, Clive lost his home. He bounced around on friend’s couches and then finally ended up in a tent on Skid Row last spring. When I met him, he was bright-eyed, energetic and hopeful about finding work. The shelter system & SROs were terrifying experiences for such a trusting gentleman. It’s next to impossible to find work when you don’t have access to stable housing.

That afternoon, Clive slept in my car while I drove around in the storm making phone calls and picking up food and supplies. At 6:00 p.m., we finally found a motel in Highland Park that would take him. He’s paid up for one night at $92 per night. It would be great to keep him there for the week while the storms continue and the temperature is close to freezing. I will not have it on my conscience if he freezes to death in a city with exponential wealth and inadequate resources.”

Calhoun added that it was very sad that the City and County of Los Angeles were leaving unhoused people to potentially die in the blast of a dangerous winter storm. She said, “LA COUNTY SHOULD BE PROVIDING EMERGENCY SHELTER/ WARMING CENTERS!!! This is a life or death situation for many with temperatures dipping into the 30s. But Clive is safe & warm tonight. Please DONATE if you’d like to help him stay in the motel for the foreseeable future. Or if you’d like to buy him clothes, supplies, a meal, anything. We’ll make sure he gets it.”

Food Not Bombs is a collective that serves vegan meals and distributes supplies to the houseless on Skid Row every week. Please check out our Instagram account to see the work that we do on Skid Row. IG: @foodnotbombsdtla.

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