Youth Count Press Release

The Youth Homeless Count continues to perpetuate the invisibility of young people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

The press release from September 8, 2022, highlights the results of the recent Youth Homeless Count in Los Angeles. The count, which was the first since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, shows a 58% reduction in unsheltered youth. However, the reduction is primarily attributed to COVID-related factors rather than a significant decrease in youth homelessness.

The Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership (HHYP) and the Los Angeles Coalition to End Youth Homelessness (LACEYH) emphasize that this year’s count doesn’t present the complete picture of youth homelessness in the city. The challenging circumstances surrounding the count included COVID outbreaks affecting youth-serving organizations and resulting in staff and volunteer shortages. This led to a 64% decrease in the number of surveys collected, highlighting the count’s unique challenges.

While some data suggests progress, with investments in the youth-serving system and policies helping stabilize housing situations for some young people, there remain limitations in accurately capturing the extent of youth homelessness. Many young people who lack stable housing and utilize homeless services daily don’t fit within the strict federal definition of homelessness.

Despite lower overall numbers, concerning trends emerge from the data. The percentage of unsheltered young people reporting mental health issues nearly doubled, while substance abuse issues saw a significant increase. Additionally, a study from the L.A. County Department of Public Health indicates a stark rise in deaths among unhoused youth since the pandemic’s start.

The press release emphasizes the need for continued resources and investment in interventions that work for young people, along with addressing worsening mental health and substance use issues. It suggests that the Youth Count methods should adapt to better reflect the evolving state of youth homelessness and consider alternative data sources beyond the strict HUD definition.

To facilitate further discussion on these matters, the HHYP and LACEYH plan to host a virtual town hall on youth homelessness on September 14 at 3:00 PM, inviting participants to engage in this critical conversation.