California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Blanca E. Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) held a joint informational hearing on the extraordinarily high level of youth homelessness, with statistics indicating that an estimated 80% are Californians, not from outside the state or country. While the State Legislature has made some progress addressing housing affordability—the youth component of the larger homelessness issue has fallen through the legislative cracks, even though more than 12,000 youth are homeless in the Golden State on any one night.
Representative service providers, researchers, homeless advocates and youth testified on Oct. 10, World Homeless Day, at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza in Hollywood on the dire but often overlooked situation and what state government could do, including education and job training programs.
Simon Costello, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Director of Children, Youth & Family Services cited statistics from an extensive survey conducted by the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership (www.hhyp.org), with which the Center partners. The 2013 HHYP report indicated that: 40% had been removed from their home by child protective services; 69% had at some point been involved with the juvenile or criminal justice system; less than 50% of youth over 18 had a high school diploma or GED.
Simon also cited a Jan. 2017 study under the auspices of the LA Homeless Services Authority: 5,847 youth—nearly half of all estimated homeless youth in California—are homelessness on any one night in LA County alone—that’s up from 3,540 counted in 2016; over 90% were between 18 and 24 and roughly 80% were young people of color; 70% were from LA County. These surveys do not count youth who couch surf or find other temporary shelter.
In 2016, “the Center provided services to over 1,200 young people experiencing homelessness, 880 were first time clients,” says Center Communications manager Gil Diaz. “Since the Youth Center is open 7 days a week, it means 2 to 3 new young people are seeking services every day—at just one agency.”
(See Sen. Wiener’s op-ed on the hearing in this issue.)