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StepUp | About
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Step Up envisions that all individuals, families, and communities affected by mental illness will have the opportunity to experience recovery and a sense of belonging, and that permanent supportive housing will be available to everyone who needs it.




Step Up delivers compassionate support to people experiencing serious mental illness to help them recover, stabilize, and integrate into the community. Through dynamic partnerships, we provide positive social and learning environments, vocational training, permanent supportive housing opportunities, and recovery services to empower individuals to cultivate lives of hope and dignity. We exercise innovative leadership and advocacy to increase public understanding, support and acceptance of all people living with mental illness.




Mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression are real, biologically-based conditions that are no one’s fault. The courageous individuals we serve are part of a sobering national picture: 50% of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness also experience mental health issues.

Step Up, a 501(c)3 organization, began providing psychosocial rehabilitation and support in 1984, when a woman’s deep love for a family member caused her to take action and create Step Up on Second. Searching for services and finding very few, founder Susan Dempsay had no choice but to start a center offering services that could not be found anywhere else.

Her vision included a supportive environment with productive activities, including art therapies, supported employment training, coping skills, service coordination, and social connectedness. Family members accessed help through support groups that met every month. Initially, Step Up served approximately 10 individuals a day and offered a limited number of services.

What started humbly in a warehouse shell in Santa Monica is now a thriving community agency serving over 1,800 individuals annually and providing 200 permanent supportive housing units at Step Up on Second, Step Up on Fifth, Step Up on Colorado, Daniel’s Village, Step Up on Vine, Michael’s Village, and The Tammy. Today, over 100 individuals are seen daily and offer over 22 different programs address the issues of the entire individual and provide a continuum of care, all free of charge.


3 Core Strategies


Step Up assists individuals experiencing mental health issues, and young adults who have experienced trauma and are at risk of developing mental health issues through 3 core strategies:

Member-driven supportive services

Employment training and placement opportunities 

Permanent Supportive Housing

Learn more about the programs and services that Step Up provides…