Today I discovered something I wish I knew about when I first moved here, The Actor's Fund.
I was alerted to this group by a friend at work who is also an actress, and she showed me some of the job listings they provide, so I decided to check them out. I went to orientation today.
Basically, they are a safety net for anyone in the entertainment industry. They can provide financial aid, health insurance, career counseling, and a lot of other social services. They also have a job board that's full of jobs that are specifically useful to the needs of people in the industry, such as being really flexible with scheduling. A lot of their financial aid is only available to people who have actually been making money in the industry, so I don't qualify, but anyone can have access to their career services, counseling, training, and social workers.
When I say the financial stuff is for people working in the industry, keep in mind they aren't really demanding a lot. For most things, it looks like you need to have made at least $6500 per year for at least 3 years in the past 5 years. Or, conversely, $5000 per year for at least 10 years in the last 20. So they are certainly sensitive to the uncertainty inherent in the business. They are also housed in the same building as the SAG/AFTRA offices, so, convenient!
If you're like me, and not quite making money off of this whole showbiz thing, they have a lot of great resources. Classes for career development, skills for survival jobs, and support groups for various types of people. There is an AA group that meets there, as well as Under-earners Anonymous. They have computers available for job searching if you can't afford internet at home, and they will get you onto Westside Rentals without having to pay the fee if you're looking for housing. The career counseling seems to be geared toward finding a survival job, a sideline job, or a parallel career, as well as transitioning out of the business if that's what you've decided to do. They don't really offer anything in the way of networking or finding jobs within the industry, but if you just need to pay your bills, they're the place.
I urge anyone who is having issues with their career, or living in LA, to check them out. They are super nice, and they really get what it's like to be in the entertainment industry and what our needs are.
By the way, they were started in 1882 by Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth), as a service to help actors get buried in sacred ground, something few people in the industry could afford at the time, and they still offer burial services.