Founded in 2011 by Executive Director Alison Hurst and a group of dedicated volunteers, the local nonprofit Safe Place for Youth has sought to provide hot food, clothing and other necessary items to homeless youth in the area for nearly a decade.
“Since those humble beginnings,” SPY’s website states, the organization has grown immensely as it has multiplied its services and strengthened its partnerships with the community. And while there’s still much to be done in regards to ending youth homelessness, a recently released report explores how SPY has impacted local children in the last 12 months.
Los Angeles is the least affordable housing market in the US, according to SPY’s report, which states: “Over (one-third) of LA households are significantly rent-burdened, spending 50% of their income on rent, and living paycheck to paycheck.”
“In 2019, youth accounted for the largest age demographic increase for people experiencing housing insecurity in LA county,” the report reads, mentioning the over-representation is in large part due to a lack of preventative and support services that are tailored specifically to youth.
As a result, SPY seeks to design programs that help young people establish positive coping strategies so they can better transition into adulthood with the necessary resources and a connection to the community.
One such program is the access center, which was described as a “one-stop-shop” that helps homeless and at-risk youth find access to critical resources. In 2019, more than 13,000 youth visits were made to SPY’s Access Center, where more than 2,600 showers and 23,000 meals were provided by staff and volunteers on-hand. Visitors were also able to find clothing, computer access, as well as counseling, animal care services for their four-legged pals and a number of recreational activities like meditation or gardening.
The organization’s social enterprise — The Color of Hope Collective — offered local youth various opportunities to become artists, entrepreneurs and even philanthropists, according to the report. While the SPY Squad and its 201 youth members attended community forums and nearly 50 meetings in 2019.
And thanks to SPY’s 5th annual Carnival and its Next Gen Block Party at The Brig, the organization’s events raised nearly $400,000 this year, which was possible thanks to the 5,350 hours that were donated by SPY’s nearly 600 volunteers.
“We could not have reached any of these amazing milestones without you: our incredibly committed neighbors, business owners, individual donors, and foundations who encourage us to keep fighting for homeless and at-risk youth in Los Angeles,” Hurst said. “Together we have reached new heights but the fight is not over yet.”