November has been designated as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. A report revealed last week by the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership provides a profile of the homeless teens in Hollywood, details their life experiences, reveals differences between various segments of the homeless teen population and provides recommendations on how to improve the homeless youth advocacy system. The study, No Way Home: Understanding the Needs and Experiences of Homeless Youth in Hollywood, reveals that there is a disproportionate representation of blacks in the overall homeless population in Los Angeles, where 47% of the homeless population is African-American. In this particular study of 389 youths living on the streets in Hollywood, 42% identified themselves as African-American, 24% said they were Latino and 16% said they were Caucasian.
The study also revealed that 53% of the homeless teens in Hollywood do not posses a high school diploma or GED, and 40% identified their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, transgender or unsure.
The idea that the homeless teens and young adults on the streets come from out of state to chase dreams of stardom was found to be untrue. Fifty-six percent of the teens and young adults living on the streets lived in Los Angeles County before they were homeless. According to the statistics in the report, 37 percent of the young men and women lived in either Hollywood or the city of Los Angeles before becoming homeless, 24 percent lived in another U.S. state, 18 percent lived in unincorporated Los Angeles County, 13 percent lived outside of Southern California, five percent in other Southern California areas besides Los Angeles County and two percent lived outside of the U.S.
According to the report, 14 was the average age when youth in the study became homeless due to either being removed or forced from their homes. In the 30 days before the survey, 51% had spent at least one night in a place not meant for human habitation. Fifty-nine percent of youth had been victims of child physical and/or sexual abuse and 40% reported having been removed from their home by CPS.
The report indicates that homeless teens and young adults are largely disconnected from traditional service systems. To counter that, “No Way Home” lists several recommendations to improve the systems, including the expansion of youth-specific housing programs and development of low-barrier housing for youth, connecting homeless youth to caring adults, strengthening support for youth involved in dependency and delinquency systems and ensuring that youth have access to good health care.