Nonprofit provides vital services for homeless youth
Juliana D. Norwood | 11/28/2012, 5 p.m.
Los Angeles Youth Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower abused, neglected, and homeless adolescents to become self-sufficient. The organization strives to do this by providing street outreach, food, emergency shelter, transitional living apartments, and educational enrichment programs in a safe and nurturing environment.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LASHA) noted in its report on homelessness in Los Angeles that, on any given night, more than 10,000 children are homeless in Los Angeles, and 79 percent of them are unsheltered--that's 7,998 youth who are sleeping in the streets of Los Angeles every night.
Other youth shelters in the area have recently closed their doors due to the economic downturn, leaving LAYN as one of three emergency shelters providing food, shelter and a healthy environment to runaway youth regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion.
Of all youth seeking shelter at LAYN in 2009, 45 percent at any one time admitted to engaging in prostitution or survival sex; as many as 98 percent at any one time admitted to prior drug and/or alcohol abuse, and approximately 15 percent reported intravenous drug use. Approximately 80 percent of youth in LASHA programs are of minority descent, including 40 percent of African American and 35 percent of Latino.
"LAYN targets youth ages 12-17 and our program stabilizes youth and transitions them to safer places by facilitating their return home, assisting with placing them in foster/group homes, or teaching the skills and providing the resources needed to live independently," said Executive Director Mark Supper.
"Services are offered in English and Spanish. We are open seven days a week and 365 days a year. We pride ourselves on working with any youth who is in need of a home. Our vision is to empower these youth to live to their full potential as they grow into healthy, successful adults," said Supper.
According to the organization, more than 80 percent of youth exit the program to live successfully with their families, in foster or group home placements, or independently. LAYN works within a comprehensive network of medical, social and legal agencies to help put together a healthy home situation. "We empower our youth with a step-by-step understanding of how to take care of themselves," said Supper.
Aside from shelter LAYN provides case management, HIV/AIDS education, individual, family and group counseling, substance-abuse prevention and intervention, clothing and toiletries, transportation, referrals for medical, educational, vocational, legal, and placement services, tutoring and job training.
As the holiday season is upon on us, LAYN pushes its efforts into overdrive as it asks the public to sponsor a homeless youth.
"The donation will not only help kids get through this difficult time on their own, it will also mean another year's worth of our lifesaving programs to youth in need," said Supper.
Only $25 feeds one meal a day to nine youth, $50 provides five youth with an emergency survival kit, $75 provides one night of shelter to a homeless youth, $100 provides a youth with food and a night of shelter, $250 feeds a youth for an entire month and a $1,000 donation provides a homeless youth with shelter, food and a full range of services to youth who transition into permanent housing.
For more information on the organization or to make a donation, visit the website at www.layn.org.