CITYWIDE — Public youth programs introduced after last year’s violent June in which 7 people were killed are making “positive progress” for entire families but are also facing challenges, according to a recent report from City Hall.
One family of 12 was living in a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Monica before the landlord stopped participating in Section 8 housing and they had to move.
Through the Youth Resource Team 2.0 (YRT 2.0) everyone landed on their feet with a roof over their heads. The mother and two other family members are in a City Hall-subsidized motel while they look for a two-to-three bedroom apartment in the city. Two of the adult men in the house have been place in transitional housing along with their girlfriends and children.
The head of the house, the mother, is also getting mental health services through the program and a 19-year-old man living with her is working to get his high school diploma.
The family “responded well to YRT 2.0 interventions and have experienced improved conditions in a short period of time,” officials said.
Other programs, like the Hospitality Training Academy, are having some trouble.
Last June, a 23-year-old man killed five people during a 12-minute rampage that ended when he was shot by police and died on the campus of Santa Monica College.
Days later, there were two gang-related shootings. All told, seven people were left dead in Santa Monica during the shootings.
In response, City Council directed City Hall to work with Santa Monica Cradle to Career and YRT 2.0 to build programs tasked with a “whatever it takes” approach for the most disconnected, at-risk youth and their families. YRT 2.0 includes team members from 15 different nonprofits.
Just over half a year since the programs were funded, Karen Ginsberg, director of Community and Cultural Services, released an update on the programs’ status.
St. Joseph Center was named the “backbone organization” for the program and got a $147,000 grant from City Hall to help 27 at-risk youth, ages 16 to 24, and their families.
The Hospitality Training Academy was funded to help 50 young people find jobs in the tourism industry. So far, they’ve worked with 24 youths, eight of whom have applied or interviewed for hospitality jobs in the city by the sea. The report did not mention that anyone was hired.
Criminal records among some of the academy’s youth are hurting their ability to get hired and the group is working to get the records cleared.
About a fifth of the youth in the academy struggle with math and can’t meet the minimum requirements for trade unions. The academy is trying bring a math program to YRT’s headquarters in Virginia Avenue Park.
Others are missing appointments as 15 of the 24 currently have part-time jobs that conflict with interviews and training sessions.
The academy “is supportive of all of these young adults in their transition to long-term employment and the security it can bring,” the report said. “However, it is also incumbent upon the program participants to adjust and make an active commitment to the training, full-time job and career pathway that this program offers.”
While the programs aim to help youth ages 16 to 24, much of the hardship impacts the entire family unit. The most pressing needs identified by City Hall were in affordable housing, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, and early childhood development. While 27 at-risk youth are the focus of the organizations, their 57 family members are also being supported by the program.
This summer, City Hall will fully review the initiatives and identify funds for 2014-15.
“Assuming positive progress continues” more youth and families will be added, city officials said in the report.
More training will be offered over the next six months, including in the areas of motivational interviewing and assertive case management.
City Hall plans to build a system to collect data on the initiatives.
Some groups involved with the initiative, including the Child Care Early Education Task Force and the Westside Domestic Violence Network, are pushing to expand services to include very young children and their families.