SPY Housing Programs

As the Youth Coordinated Entry System (YCES) Regional lead for all of West LA, SPY works closely with agencies throughout the county to ensure that young people have equitable access to developmentally appropriate housing resources, including shelter, transitional housing, Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, and supported connection to a young person's natural support system. In 2019, SPY launched our transitional housing program, Roots to Grow, in partnership with Venice Community Housing (VCH). The Roots to Grow program provides housing for 20 rotating youth across two sites (Mar Vista and Westwood) between the ages of 18-24 experiencing homelessness, for periods of up to 36 months. Please continue reading for a more complete breakdown of what we offer.

The Problem

Los Angeles is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. Escalating rents that outpace wages and a shortfall of over 500,000 affordable units for low-income households causes many individuals to be priced out of the housing market. When accounting for housing costs and other costs of living expenses, nearly 1⁄4 of LA County residents live in poverty—this is the highest rate in California. These economic factors can make it difficult for young people to locate affordable, stable, and safe housing.
Proposition HHH, a city ballot measure that commits millions of dollars to the building of 10,000 supportive and affordable housing units over the next 10 years, has accelerated the city’s work to combat and prevent homelessness in unprecedented ways. Although the number of youth housing placements increased in 2018, so too did the number of youth falling into homelessness. The housing developments yielded by Prop HHH over the next ten years will not address the desperate needs of the youth on the streets with the immediacy that it requires; they simply cannot be built fast enough. While on the streets, youth are vulnerable to exploitation, victimization, and increased dangers. They are also far more likely to engage in substance use and delinquent behavior, drop out of school, suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, and mental illness.

Our Solution

Since our founding, Safe Place for Youth has focused on providing a safe space for homeless and at-risk youth to receive critical resources and a connection to community. Our “hub of hope” Access Center in Venice offers day-services to over 1,000 youth annually, including on-site housing assessment and connection to available housing programs. Yet, at the end of each day, a majority of the young people we serve have to go back out onto the streets to sleep at night.
The lack of available housing programs for youth in West Los Angeles has been our greatest challenge in helping young people achieve stability. To combat this, Safe Place for Youth will be launching several interim housing programs. Aligned with our three-year strategic plan (2017-2020), one of our organization goals is to create new housing resources for youth including rapid re-housing, crisis, bridge and transitional housing. Under the leadership of SPY’s Executive Director, Deputy Director and Director of Programs, and overseen by our new Housing Programs Manager, SPY will achieve this goal by launching programs in Fall 2018, one of which is Host Homes. Under the leadership of SPY’s Executive Director, Deputy Director and Director of Programs, and overseen by our new Housing Programs Manager, SPY will achieve this goal by launching 3 new housing programs in 2019. Learn more about our innovative housing programs below.

Host Home Program

Host Home Program: Launched in 2017 as a Pilot Program, SPY’s Host Home Program has now been fully integrated into our continuum of care. Host Home Programs have been tested and implemented throughout the UK and North America as an innovative way to respond to the growing need for emergency shelter options. Recently highlighted by NPR, our Host Home Program matches volunteer hosts in Los Angeles with SPY youth for short-term stays of 3-6 months. The first to be launched in LA County, SPY’s Host Home Program targets young adults, ages 18-25, who are pursuing academic and employment goals, enrolled in Rapid Re-Housing or equipped with a Section 8 voucher, and who are need of bridge housing for a 3-6 month period of time. During their stays, youth can take advantage of our Access Center resources including our Housing Case Management Program, Education and Employment Program, and Counseling. Desired hosts are welcoming, non-judgmental individuals, couples, or families with a spare room or converted private space to offer, and are committed to helping homeless youth lead safe, stable, and self-directed lives. Hosts are offered financial stipends of up to $500/month to cover any additional costs incurred for room and board such as increased housing utilities.To find out more visit our Host Home Page.

Connect LA

Connect LA: Family conflict is one of the greatest factors involved in housing instability among youth. Through our youth and family reconnection program, Connect LA, Transition Age Youth (TAY) are supported with building and strengthening positive and healthy relationships with biological or non-biological family. The primary objective of the Connect L.A. Program is to reduce the amount of time a young person experiences homelessness by connecting them back with family members, or linking them to community resources that enable them to achieve housing stability with family support.

Roots to Grow

Roots to Grow: The Roots to Grow Program is a 20 bed transitional housing program at two sites in West Los Angeles that provides transition-age-youth (TAY), between the ages of 18-24, with stable housing for up to 36 months. In partnership with Venice Community Housing (VCH), the Roots to Grow Program offers youth intensive case management, meals, and job readiness and workforce training while they search for more permanent housing.