To our Safe Place for Youth community,
Like you, we are navigating the changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and at Safe Place for Youth (SPY), we are working hard to safely support our youth members, staff, and the community.
SPY continues to take all necessary and recommended precautions and measures to prevent and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Our staff is working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Department of Mental Health (DMH), and Department of Health Services (DHS) to ensure that we have the appropriate plans in place and can swiftly and effectively respond to directives from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
At this time, SPY’s residential programs will continue to operate, and we will provide basic survival needs to street-based youth. We will be suspending all volunteer activity, tours, and nonessential visits to SPY at this time.
Communities of color and those experiencing homelessness are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
- Homeless individuals infected by COVID-19 are twice as likely to be hospitalized than the general population. *NAEH
- Sheltering at home is a privilege. 79% of homeless youth in California were unsheltered, making them vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19 because of a lack of access to showers and sinks and the ability to practice social distancing.
- Homeless individuals are two to four times as likely to require critical care and two to three times as likely to die than the general population, should they contract COVID19. *NAEH
- Communities of color are overwhelmingly affected by COVID-19. Over 70% of the young people we serve at SPY, identify as a person of color.
- In the US, African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. *NPR
For homeless and at-risk youth, there are even more risk factors for COVID-19 making them an especially vulnerable population. Support for our unhoused neighbors is critical as the pandemic continues.
How You Can Help SPY:
At our core, SPY is a community organization. As we face this time of uncertainty, we hope to continue to be a source of compassion and security for the unhoused and at-risk youth of our community. In order to do this, we need your help.
Any contributions you make will help us to continue our work, now and in the future. The main items we’re in need of at this time are:
- Gift cards to fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks and Jack in the Box. $10-$15 can provide a meal to one of our members or you can also donate here to help us be able to supply gift cards. Please contact Jessicav@safeplaceforyouth.org
- New socks and underwear are some of the items needed. To see a full list of items we are most in need of, take a look at our Amazon Wish List.
- We are having to postpone a few of our key fundraising events this Summer and any donation you can make during this time will help ensure we can continue to make a positive impact on the young people who we serve.
Youth Members: Check out the Youth Looking for Help page for the most up to date information on our programs.
How We’re Responding to the Crisis
At SPY, we have enacted an emergency response protocol for safeguarding our community that includes:
- Ensuring we continue to provide services for program participants.
- Training staff on safety precautions to mitigate the risk of spread.
- Staff proactively communicating information to program participants on how to keep themselves and others safe, and providing our neighbors with hygiene resources.
- Posting information from public health agencies in highly visible areas at administrative and service-delivery locations.
- Instructing staff who are exhibiting symptoms to remain home; identifying quarantine locations for program participants in Interim Housing.
- Pausing all onsite volunteer activities.
- Continuing to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Implementing the suggested guidelines for sleeping arrangements in Interim Housing.
- Implementing an emergency communication system for staff.
- Following social distancing recommendations issued by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
- Implementing an Emergency Work from Home Protocol for certain functions based on recommendations from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
- Our goal is to minimize disruption to our programs and to continue serving program participants while keeping everyone safe; to that end, our 24-hour programs will remain open and operating.
- Our Access center will provide services from 11 am - 3 pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- You can reach staff by email or phone during regular business hours as you would typically; meetings will take place virtually until the Emergency Work from Home protocol is lifted.
- The agency will continue to perform its essential functions while adhering to recommendations from public health agencies.
Please note the recently approved IRS law specific to cash contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic:
A new above-the-line deduction for one year (2020) was created for cash contributions of up to $300 made to certain qualifying charities, which includes Safe Place for Youth, a project of Community Partners. There have also been updates for individual taxpayers who itemize deductions and for corporate charitable contributions.
To learn more please see here or consult with a tax professional.