April 22, 2021 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

Fusion Restaurant With Latin American Sushi, Wine Cellar Opening in Santa Monica

April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

Misael Guerrero-helmed restaurant to open April 23 By Toi Creel A fusion restaurant featuring Latin American sushi and a wine...

World’s Only Solar-Powered Ferris Wheel Goes ‘Green’ For Earth Day at Santa Monica Pier

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

Earth Day light show Thursday night By Chad Winthrop A Earth Day-themed light show is coming to the Santa Monica...

Samohi Vikings Frosh-Soph Defeat Culver City Centaurs in Final Seconds

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

2020 was a tough year for Santa Monica High School football as Covid-19 restrictions forced all high school sports to...

SaMo Pride Announces Return of Art Walk

April 20, 2021

April 20, 2021

Annual event returns June 1-30 throughout downtown area By Timothy Michael In honor of Pride Month, SaMo Pride has announced...

Edify TV: Biking Increasing in Los Angeles

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Once considered among the worst places for cyclists, data shows that biking has increased substantially in Los Angeles. Learn more...

Santa Monica Police Bolster Patrols as Jury Deliberation Begins in Derek Chauvin Trial

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Santa Monica police say “no specific intelligence of any unrest”  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica police are increasing deployment of...

Robot Powered Food Delivery Program Expanding: Santa Monica Beat – April, 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Robot Powered Food Delivery Program Expanding * Two Men Arrested For...

County Holds Hearing on Effort to Split Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

April 19, 2021

April 19, 2021

Los Angeles County Office of Education makes no decision, will return in June  By Sam Catanzaro A long-awaited public hearing...

Edify TV: Venice Handball Courts Encampment Cleared

April 18, 2021

April 18, 2021

Sanitation crews Thursday cleared a homeless encampment at the Venice Beach handball courts. Learn more in this video made possible...

Edify TV: $2 Billion Beverly Hills Development Proposed Near Westside

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

A developer wants to build a $2 billion condo and retail development flanking the Beverly Hilton hotel. Learn more in...

State Funds Two Additional Sustainable Housing Proposals in Santa Monica

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

Proposals are designed to help with affordability and sustainability  By Toi Creel California is paving the way for environmentally-friendly housing...

Santa Monica City Council Rejects Proposed Ban of Certain Items at Protests

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Lawmakers vote down item 4-3 at meeting this week  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica lawmakers rejected a motion this week...

Edify TV: LAFD Announces Likely Cause of Ballona Wetlands Fire

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

The LAFD has revealed the cause of a March fire that destroyed five acres of the Ballona Wetlands. Learn more...