By Greg Hernandez
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had a very good reason for choosing the Los Angeles LGBT Center to hold this summer’s kick-off for the HIRE LA’s Youth program.
“For almost a half century this place has been all about nurturing young people and a community. So it makes sense for us to gather here to commit to doing the same thing for young people throughout our city,” Garcetti said during a press conference on Monday at the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza.
Garcetti encouraged young Angelenos to apply for summer jobs through the program which helps people between the ages 14 and 24 build work experience.
“It is on us to find those youth who slip through the cracks,” Garcetti said. “LA is a city of opportunity and I like to say LA is the city of second chances. We will give you that second chance, you can take that second chance.”
These six-week internships offer work experience in various industries, including entertainment, tech, government, healthcare, hospitality, government, transportation, and non-profit. There is also training, mentoring, and financial literacy coaching provided.
Among those benefitting from the program is 19-year-old Travis Crown, who landed an internship earlier this year at the Center, which is among the partners providing job opportunities for young people who have experienced homelessness.
“A little under a year ago, August to be exact, I got kicked out of the house because my family found out I was gay,” Crown shared. “I was 18 years old at the time and I had no place to go. I came to the Los Angeles LGBT Center after finding it online. I was able to find a safe space in its emergency shelter program and build a community with a real family who loved me and accepted me for being my true authentic self.”
In January, Crown landed an internship at the Center’s Community Health Programs through HIRE LA’s Youth. He has since been hired at the Center as a peer advocate who connects youth with local housing services in Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.
“It is because of Hire LA’s Youth program that I feel confident in my ability to take on this new position,” he said. “The [program]is vital for youth—especially for those experiencing homelessness and those who identify as LGBTQ because this program is a step forward to provide a steady job which leads to stable housing.”
The Center began participating in HIRE LA’s Youth in 2015 and since then has provided more than 150 youth with paid internships. The Center provided 45 intern slots last year and an additional 50 slots under LA: RISE, a new internship program funded under LA County homeless initiative Measure H.
Garcetti described the Center as “one of our amazing partners” in helping to jump-start opportunities for young people who have experienced homelessness.
“Last summer the Center worked with my office to host trainings for city and county caseworkers on how to best serve transgender youth who are seeking employment,” the mayor said. “We don’t want anyone to feel left out.”
An estimated 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County are LGBT and, in the past year alone, the Center has provided services to nearly 1,500 of them.
Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said at the press conference that 59 percent of these youth report that unemployment is what prevents them from securing stable housing.
“We know that the most powerful tool to prepare homeless youth for the workforce is paid work experience,” Jean said. “These internships within the context of a structured and safe environment lead to permanent employment and stable housing.”
The Center will expand its programs for LGBT homeless youth with the opening of its Anita May Rosenstein Campus early next year. The campus will include a new Youth Academy to provide enhanced education and employment services for LGBT youth, especially those experiencing homelessness.
HIRE LA’s Youth is on track to connect at least 20,000 young people with jobs by 2020. Applications are being accepted at hirelayouth.com.