Host Homes Programs Launched in Los Angeles

What are Host Homes?

Community-based solutions could be an effective means of uplifting youth out of homelessness.  One such are Host Homes, a program model implemented nationally across the country by non profit organizations that serve youth experiencing homelessness.  Safe Place for Youth, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Jovanes Inc., and Valley Oasis are all organizations that serve homeless youth in Los Angeles. These programs are evaluated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Lens Co. under the direction of Dr. Robin Petering.  

 Host Homes are connects a volunteer with extra space in their living arrangement with a youth currently experiencing homelessness, giving the young adult temporary shelter for up to six months.  By providing a safe space off the streets, the youth are able to make improvements on other parts of their lives beyond having to constantly worry about basic needs and safety. This presents an opportunity for those who are able to give back and make a direct impact both on the community and an individual’s life in need.  Furthermore, it is an opportunity for the youth to form a relationship with a well-intentioned person and form a trusting relationship.  

According to Christopher Covington, a Los Angeles-based youth activist, “Often times, as a young queer person of color, you can’t trust anybody.  Your family kicks you out, they disown you, the acceptance isn’t there.”

How Does Host Homes Work?

What distinguishes Host Homes from other programs that serve homeless youth is that it develops an environment that caters to the unique needs of the individual.  Experiencing homelessness as a youth can be an extremely traumatizing experience in of itself, and dramatically affects each person in different ways. When youth go to shelters alongside other youth, they are often thought of as a monolith, with each one’s specific needs forgotten.  As William Lehman, Youth Manager at Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) explains, “Homelessness is the variety of different experiences and risk factors that have led on a path to housing instability...There’s so many different experiences that lead to youth homelessness that we have to look at simultaneously.”  With that in mind, each host home program is tailored to and reflects the needs of the immediate community it serves.

Host Homes Is Key To Transforming Communities

Host Homes is an exceptional program that hopefully will lead to the development of similar ventures. Of course, the key is to inspire volunteers to take action, get involved, and open up their doors. Once people see others changing the lives of these youth, they too will want to get involved. Ken Slack, a youth participant from Minneapolis, predicts, “It’s all going to be a domino effect to where more people want to help, more youth will get involved, and that’s when the real change starts.”

Robin Petering