Innovative Host Homes Program Invites You to Help End Homelessness for LGBTQ Youth
Your spare bedroom can make all the difference in the life of an LGBTQ youth on the verge of independence.
Through the Center’s new Host Homes program, an LGBTQ youth is housed in a local, private home for up to six months, providing a true community solution that helps bridge the gap between homelessness and permanent thinking of new, innovative, creative ways to address this problem,” said Kevin McCloskey, the Center’s associate director of Children, Youth & Family Services. “We want to replicate a chosen community and a chosen family for the young people. This is an opportunity for someone who’s willing to provide a youth with an opportunity to come into their home, appreciate who they are, and just support them.”
On any given night in Los Angeles, there are more than 4,000 homeless youth surviving on the streets of Los Angeles—in Hollywood a staggering 40 percent of them identifying as LGBT. And the need continues to grow, with homelessness in Los Angeles County rising by 12 percent last year.
The Center serves approximately 300 youth experiencing homelessness per month, but beds for emergency and temporary shelter are limited. Many youth are on a waiting list for shelter and, in the meantime, come to the youth drop-in center for meals, showers, clothing, laundry, and services.
“Being in a host home gives youth the space to think about how they are going to propel their lives forward,” said McCloskey. “And, with support, they realize they’re not on their journey alone.”
The Center’s goal is to match 15 young people within the first of the program, which is funded
by the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority. Similar programs have been established by organizations in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and San Francisco, as well as locally through Safe Place for Youth in Venice.
Potential hosts must be over the age of 30 and have a private room available in their home. Hosts also must have homeowners or renters insurance and must complete a background check, home inspection, interview process, and training before they can qualify to be matched with a youth.
Participating youth, who are between the ages of 18 and 24, receive counseling, transition services, and assistance with finding permanent housing from Center staff. Both the youth and the host enter into a contract covering basic house rules and boundaries.
“There is a flexibility built into the program to make sure that the match is right for both the host and the youth,” McCloskey said.
In July and September, the Center invited potential hosts to eight-hour training sessions. Interviews and background checks are underway for those who attended one of the trainings and want to move forward with being a host.
Host Homes Program Coordinator Angela Pacheco hopes the initial hosts who come on board will cause a ripple effect and inspire others to open up their homes.
“Hosts are actively participating in a solution to homelessness,” she said. “Rather than just talking about the issue and being frustrated that no one in the city is doing anything, hosts themselves are actually getting involved and creating positive results to one young person at a time.”