Every Sunday, Skid Row’s curbside residents anticipate one of the only steady sources of support that comes their way. A car with the words “Drive-By Do-Gooders,” driven by Lycia Naff, arrives at Sixth Street and turns onto Gladys Avenue, then Ceres Avenue, then Towne Avenue, and many more streets throughout Skid Row.
For the 120 or so people who approach the car every week, Naff hands out two bottles of water, body wipes, some form of protein, and—as of recently—masks and gloves.
Bathrooms, showers and water fountains are not easily accessible to those who live in Skid Row, which makes this the primary source of hydration and hygiene for many. Over the course of seven years, Naff has formed relationships with lots of people who live in, around and on the outskirts of Skid Row.
Naff was introduced to the area in 2013, when she was invited to serve in a feeding line on Gladys Avenue. She recalled helping a woman move her shopping cart up a curb and how it stuck with her. The next day, she went back to see the same woman and gave her water and wipes.
“It just grew and grew and grew,” Naff said. She began going back with more supplies every week until she was barely able to keep up with buying them.
Naff then started setting aside 10% of her income and used it to supply her efforts until 2015, when she began the process of forming a nonprofit organization. Over the past five years, Drive-By Do-Gooders has been kept afloat thanks to donations and support from Naff’s friends and community.
Her experience with homelessness goes back much further than seven years, however. Naff’s brother, Cory Naff, was a victim of addiction and homeless in Venice Beach for 25 years before she was able to get him any help six years ago.
Her brother is sober and now has a steady job, but Naff continues to want to get out and help the homeless community.
“A pandemic isn’t really gonna scare me much. I’ve got my mask on, I’ve got a little plastic shield and I got gloves, which I’ve always worn anyway. The only bummer is it’s hard to shout out,” Naff said.