October 1, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Opening Homes for Homeless Youth

Demystifying negative stereotypes with SPY’s Home Host Program.

By Keldine Hull

It’s no secret that California has one of the highest homelessness rates in the country. According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, there are 129, 972 homeless people currently living in California; 89,543 of which are unsheltered. The numbers are staggering and expected to increase over time. As the State continues to struggle with methods to help those in need, dedicated individuals within the community have stepped up to offer a helping hand.

Safe Place for Youth began as a 100 percent volunteer-based organization in 2011, offering clothing and food to the homeless youth from the trunks of their own cars. Located in Venice, SPY is now one of the leading organizations in the fight to end homelessness. Their Host Home Program provides a unique solution that matches those in need of shelter with individuals willing to open their homes to help others.

Andrew Gutierrez III is the Host Home Program Coordinator and offers insight into what the organization hopes to achieve through the new program. “Young people are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness. With rental costs increasing, lack of access to educational and employment opportunities with adequate wages, it is very difficult for young people to afford to live in Los Angeles,” Gutierrez explains. “The main goal of SPY’s Host Home Program is to pair community members who have underutilized spaces in their homes with transitional-aged youth who are experiencing homelessness. The Host Home Program enables SPY’s youth members to access short-term housing while building meaningful connections with caring adults in their community. Youth guests stay in their Host Home anywhere between 3 to 6 months while working with SPY’s case management and counseling services.”

Not only does the Host Home Program provide housing for those in need, it also serves to help eradicate the stigma surrounding homelessness. “Being a host has demystified negative stereotypes often associated by mainstream media about youth experiencing homelessness, i.e. all homeless youth are struggling with drug abuse, choose to be homeless, or do not have any goals or aspirations,” Gutierrez explains. “Once hosts interact and begin to understand their guests’ story, they realize youth have a variety of reasons that have contributed towards them experiencing homelessness and most is not by choice but rather due to systemic issues and inequities.”

With a safe roof over their head, youth guests can focus on finding employment, education, and long-term housing opportunities. Gutierrez continues, “Youth guests are able to develop genuine relationships with caring adults in their community which has empowered both hosts and guests to be involved with the movement in fighting homelessness such as advocacy and community engagement, speaking at city council meetings, sharing their story, and recruiting other youth and hosts to be a part of the Host Home Program.”

In a little over a year, the Host Home Program has already had a positive impact within the community, especially for those involved in the program. “There have been several success stories, however one that stands out is one of our members who came to SPY after living in front of an abandoned home,” Gutierrez explains. “They got connected to SPY’s supportive services and joined our Host Home Program. While staying in their Host Home for six months, the young person was able to gain job experience, receive case management and support in searching for long-term housing. They were also able to live with a caring adult who shared similar hobbies such as music and singing. The young person was able to move into their own apartment with the help of SPY’s Housing Case Managers as well as obtain a job in homelessness services. The young person is now working with other youth who experience homelessness in hopes of empowering and providing support to others.”

With the holiday season here, the country is reminded more than ever of the importance of giving back to those in need. “It is very important for community members to get involved with helping fight homelessness because it affects everyone. Our community is impacted when its young people are not able to live healthy lives,” Gutierrez explains. “I would encourage community members to have an open mind and engage with young people experiencing homelessness. Whether that’s volunteering at SPY, becoming a host or saying ‘Hello!’ to someone living on the street in your community. Let us re-humanize our young people who have often felt ignored and become a part of the solution by becoming involved in the movement to fight homelessness.”

To learn more about SPY and how you can get involved, visit: http://www.safeplaceforyouth.org

Related Posts

Developer Plans 136 Units of Housing Near Expo-Bundy Station

October 1, 2022

October 1, 2022

By Dolores Quintana  A new development could be on the way near the Metro Expo/Bundy station in the future if...

Community Corp of Santa Monica Holds Ribbon Cutting for Pacific Landing Affordable Housing Development

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

Project will bring 37 units of 100 percent affordable housing to Lincoln Boulevard and Pacific Street By Dolores Quintana Community...

Man Charged for Setting Fires Behind Seven Santa Monica Businesses

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

John Dean Thomason faces seven counts of arson By Sam Catanzaro A man faces charges for seven counts of arson...

LA Metro Lifts Mask Mandate

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

Masking no longer required at LAX as well  By Dolores Quintana As of September 23, Los Angeles County has lifted...

City Officials Considering Spending $29 Million to Replace Santa Monica Pier Bridge

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

City of Santa Monica releases EIR For Santa Monica Pier bridge replacement By Dolores Quintana The City of Santa Monica...

SMa.r.t. Column: City Council Endorsements

September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022

Editor’s note: These following endorsements should not be attributed to the Santa Monica Mirror. They are the opinion of Santa...

LAHSA’s Homeless Count Accuracy Questioned

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

LA City Council motion would require that LAHSA’s count be assessed independently  By Dolores Quintana and Sam Catanzaro After the...

Fresh Corn Grill Closes Santa Monica Location

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

Restaurant ceases operations September 23 By Dolores Quintana Fresh Corn Grill, a small chain based in Westwood that serves “a...

Santa Monica’s Love Coffee Bar Expanding to Mar Vista

September 29, 2022

September 29, 2022

3519 S Centinela Avenue location coming for popular Santa Monica coffee shop  By Dolores Quintana Love Coffee Bar, a Santa...

Dr. Jane Goodall Speaking at Youth Event Wednesday at Temescal Park

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Seven Arrows Elementary hosting event Wednesday for students from around region Seven Arrows Elementary, an independent kindergarten through 6th grade...

Five Santa Monica Artists Awarded City Artist Fellowships

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

The $16,000 Artist Fellowship will be presented to painter and sculptor Meg Cranston The City of Santa Monica awarded five...

Santa Monica High School Orchestra Program Presents Disney in Concert Around the World

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Submitted by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District For the first time since the fall of 2019, the Santa Monica...

Trailhead Improvement Project Begins at Cheeseboro Canyon

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Access to trails will continue, but use of temporary parking lot required The National Park Service is revitalizing the trailhead...

Santa Monica Man Killed by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies After Hitting a Deputy With Car and Attempting to Attack Him With a Knife

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Marlon Bonds shot by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies Saturday night in Rancho Cucamonga  By Sam Catanzaro A Santa Monica...

Man Arrested for Santa Monica College Sexual Assaults

September 27, 2022

September 27, 2022

Christopher Noah Griddine II being held on $1 million bond By Sam Catanzaro A 27-year-old man has been arrested for...