12 groups fighting youth homelessness win grants totaling $38 million

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By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California had awarded $38 million in grants to 12 community organizations working to address youth and young adult homelessness in the state. The governor’s office says the grants are part of an ongoing $14 billion commitment to end homelessness in the state.

The funds, distributed through the Homeless Youth Housing and Emergency Services Program, will be used to help youth facing housing insecurity or currently homeless in 12 different counties.

“These grants will provide emergency relief and support to homeless youth across California, who are too often left in dire circumstances to fend for themselves,” Newsom said.

“We are providing immediate relief to those living on our streets – bringing resources and services directly to young people in need and helping them on the path to a stable future,” the governor continued.

The funds will also be used to provide “mental health support with crisis intervention and stabilization services,” according to Newsom’s office.

According to the California Department of Public Health, about a quarter of California’s homeless population suffers from serious mental disorders.

Newsom also offers special courts to adjudicate mental health cases involving homeless people statewide.

“There’s no compassion stepping over people on the streets and sidewalks,” Newsom said at a press briefing earlier this month. “We could hold hands, hold a candlelight vigil, talk about how the world should be, or we could take responsibility for implementing our ideas. That’s what we do differently here.

“This funding represents an important lifeline to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). “Through partnering with these community organizations, we are able to provide meaningful support and change lives.”

According to the California Homeless Youth Project, 200,000 Californians under the age of 18 are homeless one or more days a year.

“The fight against youth homelessness takes an entire village,” said Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. “That’s why this investment in the community organizations that make up the village and provide bridges of support for young people is an important part of our efforts to prevent and end homelessness.

Advocates for homeless youth say many factors can lead to youth homelessness, including substance abuse and backlash from community members about a young person’s social identity.

“Young people overwhelmingly cite family conflict and breakdown – typically abuse or neglect, alcohol or drug addiction by a family member, pregnancy, and rejection of sexual orientation – as main reasons for their homelessness or runaway episodes,” reads the California Coalition for Youth Site.

The organizations receiving the funds are: Bill Wilson Center (Santa Clara County); Center for Social Services (Stanislaus County); Community Social Services (Monterey County); Interface Child and Family Services (Ventura County); Larkin Street Youth Services (San Francisco County); Orangewood Foundation (Orange County); Redwood Community Action Agency (Humboldt County); Ruby’s Place (Alameda County); San Diego Youth Services (San Diego County); Volunteers of America Los Angeles (Los Angeles County); Waking the Village (Sacramento County) and Women’s Center – Youth & Family Services (San Joaquin County).

Newsom also announced that his administration is allocating more than $116 million in funding to seven different “Homekey” projects as part of the governor’s efforts to provide housing for the homeless.

Newsom’s pandemic-focused homelessness program, called Project Roomkey, will also continue to receive support from the federal government. The state-run initiative converts hotels and other facilities into temporary housing for the homeless.

A companion program, Project Homekey, provides funds to create permanent housing for formerly homeless people to counties, cities, local councils and other government authorities.

“FEMA’s continued support will allow us to expand Project Roomkey to get more people off the streets and into safety,” the governor said. “Since the start of the pandemic, California has moved at an unprecedented speed, helping more than 50,000 homeless people.”

Last month, Junior US Senator from California, Alex Padilla, introduced a bill proposing federal investment of nearly $532 billion over 10 years to address the twin crises of homelessness and affordability. housing in California and the country.

Speaking at a Homekey Project site in Sacramento called La Mancha Way Apartments, Padilla, a Democrat, said legislation titled “The Housing for All Act” would provide funding for both existing programs and experimental initiatives. .

“Every person has the right to dignity and safe housing,” Padilla said. “It will take all levels of government working together to rebuild a more inclusive and equitable society for all. The legislation is an opportunity to invest and align resources in expanding affordable housing and scaling up proven solutions.

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