Efforts go to counting homeless youth in Los Angeles to get needed resources

Ashley Mackey Image
Friday, January 26, 2024
Organization focuses on helping homeless youth
"The number of youths experiencing homelessness increased by about 40% in the last year," said Erika Heartman, CEO of Safe Place for Youth.

VENICE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The three-day Los Angeles homeless count kicked off Tuesday night and thousands of volunteers took to the streets across LA County to make sure every person gets counted.

On Wednesday morning, Safe Place for Youth, an organization dedicated to servicing homeless youth, began its count, focusing specifically on unhoused youth.

"The number of youths experiencing homelessness increased by about 40% in the last year, so we know that its's really critical determine whether some of the intervention strategies are working or whether we need to do more to prevent youth homelessness," said Erika Hartman, the CEO of Safe Place for Youth.

Hartman is right. Although fewer than 2019 and 2020, the 2023 youth count found 3,894 homeless children. That's 38% more than in 2022, and Hartman says that information is critical to providing the needed services at places like Safe Place for Youth, services that Micah Taylor says he utilizes often.

"You know, there's good vibes," Taylor said. "And the youth count is helping me just to be able to make money and be able to sit there and like, be able to sit there and get myself in a better place each and every day and that's the whole goal."

Safe Place for Youth provides services to about a thousand young people yearly. Hartman said with an accurate count, they'll be able to better cater their resources.

"What we find in this process is how many young folks specifically are unsheltered," Hartman said. "Safe Place for Youth is the only youth shelter in West Los Angeles, so we understand it's a really vital resource and we need to have a resource that's proportionate to the number of young people who need it."

To register to volunteer for the count, you can visit this website.