The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to boost housing options for transition-age foster youth at its meeting on Tuesday. Two separate investments totaling nearly $9.4 million will open up 237 transitional beds for foster youth at the greatest risk of homelessness over the next year.
“Youth transitioning out of foster care have often experienced significant trauma throughout their young lives,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis in a statement. “Coupled with supportive services, housing can make the difference between homelessness and a happy and healthy life.”
According to the terms of the plan, L.A. County will add 176 beds at a cost of $8.4 million to its transitional housing program (Transitional Housing Placement for Non-Minor Dependents, or THP-NMD) for older youth in foster care, which serves 18- to 21-year-olds. This brings the county’s total placements for this program to 709.
The second part of the new housing investment will double the number of beds in the county’s Transitional Housing Program-Plus (THP-Plus), which serves youths who exited a foster care placement administered by a child welfare or juvenile probation system. The roughly $1 million addition to this program, which serves 18- to 25-year-olds, doubles the total number of available slots in county to 82 from 41.
Last year, a count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) found that 4,021 transition-age youth were homeless in L.A. County, an increase of 22 percent over the last year and a rate that surpasses adult homelessness. According to that LAHSA count, about a third of those youth had exited the foster care system.
However, housing programs aimed at foster youth are often in short supply in L.A. County and beyond. According to a recent report from the John Burton Advocates for Youth, there were 110 youth on the waiting list for the THP-Plus program in L.A. County and 64 youth waiting for THP-NMD placements as of June 30, 2019.
Youth homelessness helped prompt the Board of Supervisors to focus on the issue last year. A motion from Supervisor Solis directed the board to find a way to create more housing for transition-age foster youth and to address the discharge process so that youth do not become homeless after leaving their housing programs.
The state has also recently taken up the issue. In the California state budget approved in June, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) allocated $8 million to create 300 slots for the THP-Plus program across the state.