Months before coronavirus appeared, youth homelessness in greater Los Angeles soared almost 19% from the previous annual point-in-time survey, according to results released Thursday, as regional efforts to house this vulnerable population failed to keep pace with the growing need.
The latest count was conducted in late January, well before the pandemic struck full force in mid-March. Heidi Marston, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said this does not bode well for next January’s count, reported the City News Service, even though advocates have taken steps to soften that blow.
The authority counted a net total of homeless 4,775 people under the age of 25 this year, compared with 4,021 in 2019. The agency found housing for about 2,100 young people in 2019, while about 2,800 others found housing in other ways.
“Despite the fact that we’ve made gains in serving homeless youth, it’s unacceptable that so many youths are falling into homelessness in L.A.,” Marston said in a news release.
“The key to preventing young people from reaching the point where they require our services is to continue to do the work of bringing together the different systems that touch their lives– from the foster system and probation to workforce development.”
Latinos made up the greatest share of homeless youth, at 42.1%, while Black youth accounted for 38.2% and white youth 14.6%. Compared with L.A. County’s population as a whole, Latinos were somewhat underrepresented, whites were significantly underrepresented, and Blacks were greatly overrepresented.
Also compared with June’s survey results of the overall homeless population in greater L.A., homeless youth are more likely to be female, Black or Latino – and more likely to report being LGBTQ, the authority reported.