SPY Housing Programs
Los Angeles is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. Escalating rents that outpace wages and a shortfall of over 500,00 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.
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” Drop-In 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. Stay tuned for more exciting details!
Host Home Program
In July 2017, funding from United Way’s Home for Good program afforded SPY the opportunity to directly provide bridge housing for youth through the launch of its Host Home Pilot. Host Home programs focus on matching homeless youth with volunteer community members for short-term stays. 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.
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. 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 incur any additional costs for room and board such as increased housing utilities.
Under this pilot model, SPY has successfully matched and housed 6 young people with welcoming hosts. Over the next year, SPY is looking forward to expanding this innovative, cost-effective program and matching 15 eligible youth to host homes.
Interested in participating in the Host Homes program? Contact Andrew Gutierrez III, the Host Home Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.902.2283 x108