LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County officials called Tuesday for more housing for young adults coming out of foster care or juvenile detention, to prevent them from starting their new lives homeless.
Supervisor Hilda Solis called for a broad, multi-department review of programs to place youth in housing and asked staffers to determine why some beds are underutilized when an estimated 3,300 young adults are homeless countywide on any given night.
“Providing these youth with housing will stabilize their lives, and help them focus on school or employment opportunities,” Solis said. “I am committed to prioritizing the success of these youth as they transition out of foster care.”
Strict age limits and other requirements can make it harder to match youth to housing resources, according to Solis.
“While some programs that serve youth who are currently in foster care must by their very nature have strict rules, programs that serve youth who have exited care do not need to be as rigid as they are designed today,” according to Solis’ motion, co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Similarly, programs are not structured to serve youth exiting the probation system, who are often in dire need of housing resources.”
Only a small percentage of kids aging out of foster care are immediately homeless, but nearly three-quarters move into some type of unstable housing situation, according to research cited in the motion.
“We know that transition age youth between the ages of 18 and 24 disproportionately struggle to find stable housing and are greatly at risk of becoming homeless,” Kuehl said. “We have to do much better by coordinating and expanding existing services, in order to prevent our young people from becoming homeless in the first place.”
Youth transitioning out of foster care are often the victims of trauma and are disproportionately black and Latino.
The board directed the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to work with child welfare, probation and mental health staffers to identify available funding, create a universal referral process and rework the discharge process to better prevent homelessness, among other work.
“Coupled with supportive services, housing can make the difference between homelessness and long-term success,” Solis said. “By addressing some of the funding challenges associated with housing former foster youth, we can move these youth off the streets and into homes.”