LOCAL L.A. Now

Head of Conrad Hilton Foundation to step down at the end of 2015

Steven M. Hilton is stepping down as head of his family's foundation, one of the largest charitable organizations in the Los Angeles area, which awarded $92 million in grants last year, the foundation announced Tuesday.

Hilton, 63, is the grandson of the hotel magnate and founder of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, based in Agoura Hills. With a staff of 50 and an endowment of $2.4 billion, the foundation focuses on ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children with HIV and AIDS and supporting youths moving out of foster care. 

The group also gives out the $1.5-million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, which last year went to EPCAT, a global network to end child prostitution and pornography and child sex trafficking.

Hilton cited bringing wells and pumps to African villagers, who otherwise would have to walk three or four miles for clean water, as a high point of his tenure. Another is the foundation's international campaign to help severely disabled blind children, he said.

"This is one in which the foundation made a global impact," Hilton said in an interview.

Locally, the group helped fund permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people.

Earlier this month, the foundation announced a partnership with Los Angeles County to house homeless patients with complex physical and mental health issues. The foundation will give $4 million over two years to match $14 million from Los Angeles County to subsidize housing with intensive wrap-around case management for 2,400 people transitioning into long-term housing, the foundation said.

Despite the disappointing growth in the L.A. County homeless population -- up 15% last year, to almost 58,000  -- the focus on housing chronically homeless people that the foundation helped fund is paying off, Hilton said.

"There is a lot more coordination between the city and the county, foundation people and even the business community," he said. "If you provide housing with services to somebody, it makes all the difference in the world."   

Hilton, who started at the foundation in 1983, plans to retire by the end of 2015. He said he made an early announcement to give the group time for an intensive nationwide search.

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Twitter: @geholland

gale.holland@latimes.com

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