L.A. homelessness prevention program expands to foster children

Shayla Girardin Image
Wednesday, July 10, 2024 11:50PM
Homelessness prevention program expands to foster children
A homelessness prevention program is expanding in Los Angeles to help young people, who are more at risk of ending up on the streets, transition out of foster care.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A homelessness prevention program is expanding in Los Angeles to help foster care youth.

We are LA, the Mayor's Fund homelessness prevention program, now includes youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Young adults leaving the foster care system are at increased risk of ending up on the streets.

Esmeralda Barajas said she started foster care at eight years old and still remembers the day she aged out of the system.

"When I turned 18, that's when my world came down," Barajas said. "I had my first baby, a lot of complications, a lot of illnesses. So, I was about to lose my home, couldn't work."

That's when the Children's Law Center stepped in and paid one month of Barajas's rent, which she said helped her pay off people and save up rent, making her life easier.

Mayor Karen Bass and the Mayor's Fund hope to offer the same help to all foster youth aging out of the system.

"If you look at people who are unhoused there's a lot of different categories," Bass said. "One category that's rarely mentioned is young people in the foster system that we cut off at 18 or 21."

The program partners with the Children's Law Center and the Right Way Foundation to provide housing opportunities and other resources to youth leaving foster care up to 24 years old.

"There needs to be benefit, employment and housing navigation for the people leaving the system," Mayor's Fund President Conway Collis said.

The program also pairs the youth with benefits navigators to help them with housing assistance and food stamps.