LA County to Increase Funding to Prevent Youth Homelessness

LOS ANGELES – Under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Homeless Housing, Assistance, and Prevention program (HHAP), Los Angeles County is anticipated to receive $65 million in funding. By law, at least eight percent of HHAP dollars must be used for services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness. However, young adults who lack housing likely exceed eight percent of the total population in the County. In response, today the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion, authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, directing the County to dedicate 18 percent of HHAP’s one-time funding for youth homelessness.

Homeless encampments are set up along a number of streets in city of Los Angeles. Photo by Keyang Pang

“Too many college students, foster youth, and other young people end up chronically homeless because they did not receive proper support and services early on in life. Today, LA County will change that trajectory,” said Supervisor Solis. “Providing young adults with housing is critical to their safety and will allow them to focus on school, employment, and other opportunities essential to a young adulthood. We owe it to our youth to invest in services that will stabilize their lives and put them on a path to success.”

“Homelessness can be devastating to a young person’s future and youth homelessness is unfortunately a growing but invisible problem here in LA County and across the State,” said Supervisor Hahn who coauthored the motion. “I am hopeful that this funding will help us more effectively address the unique problems young people are facing and prevent young people from falling into homelessness in the first place.”

According to the 2019 Youth Homeless Count, an estimated 4,021 young adults were experiencing homelessness in LA County, which was a 22 percent increase from 2018. This is an artificially low census since homeless young are often hidden from plain sight. Many are couch surfing, living in cars, or in other precarious situations. Statewide, unaccompanied homeless youth up to age 24 account for 9.5 percent of California’s homeless population.

Youth homelessness services have historically been underfunded at the local, state, and federal level. But, today’s motion aims to change that by dedicating 18 percent of HHAP’s funds to programs for transition age youth who lack safe housing. This motion also calls for investments in permanent supportive housing and interim housing for youth who are experiencing homelessness.

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