Today’s podcast discusses young children and families experiencing homelessness, and the impact this has on them while they are unhoused and in the long-term.
The 2020 Los Angeles County Homeless Count tells us that 63,706 individuals were unhoused that year. Children and families make up 19% of that total. Specifically, in 2020, 7,491 children under the age of 18 were unhoused. An additional 4,181 are homeless if you add in young people between 18 and 24, such as those aging out of our foster care systems.
Tragically, we saw a 48% increase in the number of unhoused children in LA County in just one year from 2019 – 2020. And these numbers predated the economic hardship that came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, where countless parents lost jobs and the most economically vulnerable amongst us were hit the hardest. Interesting to note as well, this data is calculated using the Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, definition of homelessness. That is, “an individual or family who lacks fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence,” such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or places not meant for habitation (i.e. cars, underpasses or storefronts). It won’t count children and families who are “couch surfing,” those who stay with a succession of friends or relatives with no permanent arrangements on the first of the month.
At The Guidance Center, we sometimes treat entire families staying in a friends’ garage, or families that move from couch to couch to couch relying on the goodwill of relatives and friends. These children would not be routinely counted as “homeless”, despite the grave instability of their living situation.
In today’s episode Patricia speaks with Jeff Levine, the Executive Director of the Long Beach Rescue Mission, which includes oversight of Lydia House, a homeless shelter for women and their children. Jeff served for 12 years as Chaplain at the Mission. He left for four years to serve as Lead Pastor at Bethany Church, before returning to the Mission in 2020 as Executive Director.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
Please visit tgclb.org or text HOPE to 562-262-5689 to make a one-time donation or join our Hope and Healing Club to become a monthly donor today. And subscribe to In My Backyard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.