California has the second highest rate of unsheltered homeless youth in the nation and the number is growing. Nearly 30% of all homeless youth in the United States are living in California without a safe place to call home; yet, two-thirds of the state’s counties lack even basic services for homeless youth such as shelter, much less proven long-term programs that would permanently address homelessness for youth. The services-to-needs gap for homeless youth in California is vast and growing as the number of unsheltered youth is increasing year-after-year and funding remains both insufficient and flat.
During the 2015 Point-In-Time (PIT) count, 11,365 unsheltered, unaccompanied children and youth were found to be residing in a place not meant for human habitation on the night of the count. Transition Age Youth (TAY), between the ages of 18 to 24, comprise the vast majority of unsheltered homeless youth counted across California communities. A total of 10,531 unsheltered homeless TAY were identified in 2015, 8% more than in 2013, and 87% more than in 2011.
Despite the great and growing need, the State of California funds only two programs to specifically serve the crisis facing runaway and homeless youth: the Homeless Youth and Exploitation Program (HYEP) and the California Youth Crisis Line (CYCL), both administered by the Office of Emergency Services. These programs were enacted between 1985 and 1988. Since then, the homeless youth population has increased dramatically; yet, funding or available beds have not grown since 1988 to keep pace with the need. In fact, as the cost of doing business has risen, the number of funded shelter beds actually decreased between 1990 and 2010. Today, the HYEP supports only four providers in the state, who serve just 5,000 youth annually.
|Temporary/Emergency Shelters||587 beds||555 beds|
|Long Term Shelters||89 beds||67 beds|
|HYEP and CYCL Funding||$1.1 Million||$1.3 million|
19901 20102 California Population 29,760,021 37,253,956 CA Homeless Youth Population (*Estimate) 100,00-200,000* 298,000+ Temporary/Emergency Shelters 587 beds 555 beds Outreach Programs N/A 5 Drop-in Centers N/A 16 Long Term Shelters 89 beds 67 beds HYEP and CYCL Funding $1.1 Million $1.3 million
California’s homeless youth need a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to get and keep them off the streets. California cannot afford the long-term costs of a growing generation at risk of chronic homelessness or incarceration. Now is the time to implement a sound yet aggressive strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness in California.
Advocates and providers across the state support a $25 million investment to close the gap in comprehensive and coordinated services for runaway and homeless youth in California. This funding will augment California’s existing Homeless Youth and Exploitation Program, administered by the Office of Emergency Services, and align with the Federal strategy to end youth homelessness. The model calls for $10 million targeting basic services such as shelter, street outreach, and crisis intervention that provide an immediate, short term exit strategy for youth off the streets. The additional $15 million would support service-rich transitional living programs for homeless, non-system youth that moves them out of the shelters or off the streets and onto a pathway out of homelessness and poverty, which moves them toward a life where they can live independently and successfully on their own. This investment in one of the most vulnerable populations of youth in our state will help expand services to more areas of the state where none currently exist.
Additional funding for runaway and homeless youth in our state is the top priority for CCY in 2016. For more information on this request and how you can help, please contact Paul Curtis at Paul@calyouth.org.
1The California Child, Youth and Family Coalition. (1990). A Comprehensive Policy for Runaway/Homeless Youth in California.
2 Hyatt, Shahera, et al. (2011). Programs Serving California’s Homeless Youth: Results of a Point-In-Time Survey.