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Homeless Youth Will Help Count Their Own

Los Angeles County is one of nine municipalities participating in a nationwide homeless count to help assess the financial needs of homeless services. This is the first time homeless youth are being used to help in the count.

In an effort to more accurately represent the number of homeless people under the age of 25 who live in L.A. County, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has enlisted homeless youth to help count their own.

This is the first time the agency is using homeless youth in its counts, relying on their expertise to help ascertain who is or isn't homeless.

"Otherwise we would really not know where the homeless youth are here locally, which is really important for our planning efforts," said Mark Silverbush, LAHSA policy and planning analyst.

LAHSA, a joint authority comprised of the City and County of Los Angeles, has partnered with several other homeless services organizations to provide the youth volunteers.

Up to 100 homeless youth will be recruited to help in the counting effort being conducted the morning of Jan. 22.

Homeless youth tend to keep later hours and counting them during school hours also helps to prevent duplication during the regular street counts, held Jan. 29-31, said Silverbush.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 29 - San Gabriel Valley, East L.A. County
  • Wednesday, Jan. 30 - West L.A., South Bay
  • Thursday, Jan. 31 - San Fernando Valley/Santa Clarita Valley, Metro L.A., South L.A.

Some 67 cities and 18 communities are participating in the effort and LAHSA hopes to recruit 5,000 volunteers to be deployed from more than 50 sites across Los Angeles County.

In many of the previous counts, homeless youth were largely unaccounted for, but were estimated to make up only a small portion of the nation's overall homeless population.

"The youth count is a very important component of the homeless count," Silverbush said.

In 2011, it was estimated that homeless people between the ages of 18-24 made up 3.7 percent of Los Angeles County's chronically homeless population, according to a LAHSA report (.pdf).

Even though that number may seem insignificant, today's homeless youth will become tomorrow's homeless adults, Silverbush said.

Los Angeles is home to the largest population of chronically homeless people in the country, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (.pdf). Los Angeles has also seen its homeless population shrink by 6.8 percent since 2011, the largest such decrease nationwide.

During the street count, volunteers will deploy with clip boards and tally sheets. They will look for obvious signs of homelessness like encampments and tents, in addition to situations where people are living in vans or RV's. During the regular counts, little to no conversation occurs between the counters and the counted, said Silverbush.

The youth count is different.

"The youth are allowed to ask questions of the other youth to ascertain whether the youth is homeless or not," said Silverbush. "Sometimes that can be confusing. Although with their expertise, they're able to know easier than those other [volunteers] would be able to."

Most of the homeless youth in Los Angeles County became homeless here, said Silverbush. In most cases they have their own children. Those that have children tend to be female, otherwise they're alone, he said.

In February, The LAHSA will conduct a demographics survey, where homeless people will be asked a number of questions pertaining to their health and safety. Like with the homeless count, the information collected will be used in advocacy for homeless services.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, a number of factors contribute to a person becoming homeless, including:

  • The inability to find affordable housing
  • A lack of subsidized housing
  • The loss of a job or work that doesn’t pay enough to afford housing
  • Foreclosures on owned or rented property
  • Domestic violence
  • Having children at a young age
  • Not having a social support network

For information on how you can volunteer, visit the 2013 LAHSA homeless count website.

Resources for Homeless Youth:

  • Runaway and Homeless Youth - Through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (RHY), the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) supports street outreach, emergency shelters and longer-term transitional living and maternity group home programs to serve and protect these young people.
  • Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs - The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) offers assistance to help current and former foster care youths achieve self-sufficiency.
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program - When families become homeless, the experience is traumatizing, especially for children. Research compiled by the National Center on ...
  • Job Corps - Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.
  • National Runaway Safeline - The National Runaway Safeline provides education and solution-focused interventions, offers non-sectarian, non-judgmental support, respects confidentiality, collaborates with volunteers, and responds to at-risk youth and their families 24 hours a day.
  • Maternity Group Home Program - Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) promotes safety, stability, and well-being for people who have experienced or been exposed to violence, neglect or trauma.
  • Street Outreach Program -The Street Outreach Program enables organizations around the country to help young people get off the streets.
  • Transitional Living Program (TLP) - Transitional Living Programs support projects that provide long-term residential services to homeless youth. The program accepts youth ages 16-21. Exceptions are granted which allow youth to remain in the program until they reach the age of 18, even if that time exceeds the 21-month limitation.
  • YouthBuild - The YouthBuild program provides funds to non-profit organizations to provide an alternative education pathway and teach occupational skills training for low-income youth ages 16-24 who have been adjudicated, are aging out of foster care, or who are high school dropouts.
catman January 22, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Isn't it wonderful that we have a homeless count where the counters have " little to no conversation between the counters and the counted", That way we the liberals can make believe that they care about people without actually having to have any interaction with them. What a concept !
RachelD January 22, 2013 at 04:39 PM
I think that they may try not to have too much conversation for safety reasons. When you think about the number of homeless that have a mental illness it may be best to try to just make sure you have an accurate number of homeless instead of chatting with them and triggering an outburst that may cause someone to get hurt or arrested. The whole point is to get an accurate number to be able create help for those who want to get back on their feet and make things safe for those who are on the streets.
ted B January 22, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Yes, the point is to have a better count of who is actually versus who is just standing on 3rd/Wilshire singing about being homeless and then going back to her her house in Ladera Heights.
Joseph January 22, 2013 at 05:15 PM
I hear what you are saying but the truth of the matter is that their job is to have a count and thats pretty much it. They leave the interaction up to volunteers (God forbid we pay people to interact with others)
EZDuzit January 22, 2013 at 05:24 PM
If one is motivated to help homeless youth, consider a donation to Covenant House...they take in homeless youth, runaways and teens in crisis and give them direction, support, a safe place to stay and provide opportunities for training that will make them self-sufficient.
Alison Johnson January 22, 2013 at 05:57 PM
This is a two-part process, and I think you may have also missed the part of the article that stated "In February, The LAHSA will conduct a demographics survey, where homeless people will be asked a number of questions pertaining to their health and safety. Like with the homeless count, the information collected will be used in advocacy for homeless services." During this second go-round, the volunteers do have conversation with the people surveyed. Sometimes quite good and interesting conversation too! They also check to make sure that the people surveyed have knowledge of the local resources available to them. The first time through is just like when taking a class, the teacher takes a head-count to make sure they are in a big enough classroom... if a larger classroom is needed, then the teacher can request a different space. Same with the homeless count-- if we find that the numbers have shifted dramatically, we can request allocation of more resources. After that, the sharing of knowledge (both directions) can begin much more easily.
Alison Johnson January 22, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Absolutely this type of project relies on volunteers. Since the state government is struggling to balance its budget and manage its debt, funding for housing and homelessness has been utterly stripped. Projects themselves have been left intact, but virtually all administrative funding-- the offices of social workers and people who explain HUD's labyrinthine rules and technicalities-- is gone. SO-- HUD puts out a request for proposals to start a project to help the homeless. But wait-- hardly anyone knows it's out there, so it has few applicants. And, uh-oh, the applicants don't understand the process of funding, so they don't get it done right, and there are no valid proposals in the pipeline. Ergo, HUD says in future years "we offered funding, and no one took us up on it, so there must not be a need" and cuts programs further. Meanwhile we have 30-somethings struggling with mental illness, 50-something folks who have lost everything and can't get hired, 18-year-olds with babies, and single-parent families of four who were three paychecks away from the street, now out on the streets trying to understand why there's no help. Yes, we need volunteers. Always. (From a person whose job description is getting paid to interact with others)
Niles Akbar January 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM
A lot of the problems mentioned across age groups in this column are caused by economic and immigration policy and tax decisions made by well-meaning liberal politicians. They have run California for decades - there is barely an opposition Republican party left to blame anything on anymore - and now the Democrats in power are surprised at the dearth of jobs and tax revenue caused by their own intentional voting for these liberal programs that punish business. Elections have consequences and so do laws, oftentimes in surprising and undesirable ways.
E.M. Fredric January 22, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Many places help the homeless youth - if they want it - Children of the Night, Covenant, etc. The original comment was about the count. The streets have their own code and the count - which I have been a part of - is dedicated to treating those who are down and out with dignity. We have many paid people and volunteers in Los Angeles who walk among and help the homeless daily - it is a mission for Gettlove and many organizations to eradicate homelessness here. Homelessness has a different face than many years ago when the medical began to erode for this nation. Running homeless in Hollywood - is but a tale.
Alison Johnson January 23, 2013 at 12:19 AM
We also have the difficulty that California passes a LOT of propositions, which become law without being reviewed by the legislative branch, but by a well-meaning but short-sighted public. I have actually spoken with people who did not know that a bond issue was something that would have to be repaid with interest one day. Our credit has come due and the burden is falling on us all disproportionately.
Culturevator January 23, 2013 at 02:58 AM
I don't know how our elected officials sleep at night. I heard on David Cruz's talk show that the LA city supervisors get 3 million a year each in discretionary funds, to spend any way they choose. What have they done with the money? When homelessness children are all around them, and they have the power to make changes, but choose to pass the buck, how do they sleep? Good article on the Patch.
catman January 23, 2013 at 03:46 AM
When you have a dominant political party that preaches a philosophy that basically teaches people that the cards are stacked against them and it's a waste of time to even try and make something of their lives what do you expect but thousands of people living in the streets ? The biggest problem this country has right now is that millions of people have bought into the negative philosophy of the Democrats and our economy has been suffering because of it. They've done an incredibly good job of destroying this country's economy and putting the blame on the other guy. Homelessness in this country is just going to continue to grow until people wake up and reject the negative thinking of the Democrats. This country was built on a set of basic principles that they have not only rejected but have convinced a whole lot of people are wrong for them to even be thinking about. And those basic principles are perseverance, self-reliance and keeping a positive mental attitude at all times. All of these corporate CEO's that the Democrats lambaste are exactly the people who the populace should be paying attention to. They're successful people whose success doesn't come by accident or a twist of fate. It comes because they put in the mental work to get what they want. It's a damned shame what the Democrats have done to this country all in the name of being "progressive." They've created a whole generation of Americans who are just a bunch of slackers with negative attitudes.
Dan Crandell January 23, 2013 at 04:09 AM
@ Catman ... You got all that said in one long paragraph. I will follow this for sure. Thanks MAN
David V. January 23, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Catman, you have nailed it. There is no such thing as luck. If you make it, you've done it all on your own, by the sweat of your brow. You are what you earn; your salary is a true reflection of your worth. The market is always right. If you're homeless, it's because you haven't tried hard enough, or you have a bad attitude, and certainly not because you were dealt a bad hand. Look to the CEOs, because they did it, all on their own. Why, we've become a nation of "takers," looking to govment for a handout, rather than self-reliant individuals with a good attitude, who rise up by their our own bootstraps without any govment help whatsoever. This country was built on principle that each of us should extract what we can from society and leave others in the dust, because it's their fault for being so low down in the first place. How dare liberals and democrats try to change that core part of our national heritage. Of course, some people say that we're all in this soup together. They insist that "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." But that's Un-American. We're a nation that is, at its core, about inequality and celebrating the successful individual over our collective well-being. You have offered a very attractive vision for our country, Catman. Thank you for enlightening us with it.
Dan Crandell January 23, 2013 at 07:18 AM
Right on David. Your rebuttal was broken into 9 paragraphs. However your delivery is still stuck in pre second term Obama rhetoric. David your guy is in Washington to rebuild the USA to your liking in spite of Catman' thinking. Do YOU plan to spend the next four years on the attack? Hay man rejoice in your victory and start having some fun.
michael mirra January 23, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Catman & David V both talk of how there is no such thing as luck. That is true in that you will notice that the same people repeatedly have the same luck. Life is what you make of it yourself. That said, I will also offer the idea that all people don't have equal brains & ability. Some people also are born to broken homes where a single mother, in poverty attempts to raise multiple children & another child is born to a middle class family with two stable parents that can afford to send the kid to get a decent education. The first child is born in a family where education is of no value in his parents mind & he is forced by society's presures to survive on his own by mid teens. The middle class child has no great advantages, but in comparison, their start in life is uneven. Each of us comes into this world with nothing & we make what we become, but each of us is not born into the same world, so to speak. Some people truely are behind the 8 ball by the hand life deals them. Some overcome that, but it also depends 'how far' behind the 8 ball each one starts out at.
David V. January 23, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Dan: dude, I am having fun, lots of it, not to worry! Now If the President acts like he spoke, instead of acting like the Rockerfeller Republican he was first term, we will be golden. Michael, I was being ironic. I quite agree with you. I think it's all luck, all the way down-- which is why we owe our success to one another and to our society and can't credibly claim we did it all in our own.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 23, 2013 at 04:14 PM
There are myths about the homeless. That they are primarily mentally ill liberated from Nurse Ratchet during the '70s is one of them. There are myths about the mentally ill, for that matter. That they are violent, is one of them. Most mentally ill people are anything but violent. The majority of violent crime is committed by the "well" people. Both MLK and Malcolm X said the US is a sick society. It was true then, it's true now. The numbers for blacks and hispanics in poverty are at 50 year record highs, and growing all the time. I maintain American Society has never been more sick, then it is now. The fact that there is a mulatto in the White House, posing as Black, pretending to know what life is like for the average Black in the US! I like what Bill Cosby has to say on the matter. If MLK could see BET programing, or a screening of Django Unchained, or read the lyrics of Popular Black Music, and what passes as "Urban Attire", it would sicken him to the point of revulsion! Barak HUSSIEN Obama??? Good Lord! But I digress... When Malcolm X was murdered he was proposing that the US, as part of the UN, was in violation of Human Rights, vis a vis, Black Americans. I propose that the US is violating the Human Rights Of Homeless Americans. I am hearted that a Homeless Bill Of Rights has been passed here, and hope that the law passes elsewhere. In PHX, most of the Homeless are White. Blacks a close 2nd, Mex-Amer. 3rd, Navajos 4th, Hispanics 5th.
michael mirra January 23, 2013 at 11:10 PM
There is something to the luck aspect. Life deals everyone a different hand, but under similar circustance, on the same playing field, luck sometimes seemes to have a part, but much of the part we see is illusion. Luck is preperation meeting with oppertunity. I spent most of my life as a big ticket commission salesman where not only income, but job secuity hings on results. Many salespeople seem to have all the luck, but sales are actually very exestential in outlook & it is understood that the same people continue to have the same luck repeatedly over time, whether that be good, or bad. There is a consistancey about most person's 'luck'
E.M. Fredric January 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM
LA's homeless count is coming up the 31st of this month. Please think to volunteer, it is an experience of oneness unlike any other I've done. The link is here: http://hollywoodhomelessregistry.wufoo.com/forms/hollywood-homeless-count-2012/ http://studiocity.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-running-young-n-homeless-in-hollywood-shorty-morty
Nicoline Conway January 24, 2013 at 10:33 PM
This has nothing to do with Democrats/Republicans or whatever conspiracy you think it is. Either volunteer or shut up. I volunteered and I'm happy to do so.

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