Youth and Homelessness in Los Angeles

The homeless epidemic in Los Angeles and cities across the United States is a current hot button issue, where the debate and differing opinions about how best to work towards a solution continue to rule the headlines. Many people have the perception that the homeless population is made up of deadbeats who developed a drug habit or lazy able-bodied people who refuse to find a job. While there are certainly drug addicts wandering the streets of downtown Los Angeles, a large portion of this population is youth and families that are without shelter because they fell on hard times. There are a multitude of reasons for families being displaced throughout the city, such as; high poverty rates, lack of affordable housing, racial disparities, challenges of single parenting, domestic violence and the lingering effects of the recession. For example, there are endless stories of women escaping domestic violent relationships to protect their children, and in doing so have no choice but to be on the streets with the children they so desperately wanted to protect. Whatever the reason, it is important to recognize that not all homeless fit the stereotype and with the help of their community, would use the helping hand to ultimately help themselves.

Struggling to Survive

Children caught in the unfortunate circumstance of homelessness are starting life struggling to survive for reasons that are beyond their control. This type of struggle often produces some of the most driven and ambitious people who want nothing more than to stand on their own two feet. And if basic resources were made available to these children they would certainly not be squandered away. Now is the time for communities to come together, face the issue head on and decide how to best disburse the resources that they have access to. As a basic human right, it is imperative that shelter is provided to struggling youth when in need, and while this may seem like a simple solution, it is not the only factor. It will take many other services to end the cycle and facilitate changing the trajectory of these young lives. Education, health and mental healthcare services are just a few that play a crucial role in their future success. Even if we are not able to agree on the “right” way to tackle the homeless epidemic, I believe that investing time, energy and resources into the future of our communities is a great place to start.