2021 Grants Challenge

Operation Housing First

The RightWay Foundation is dedicated to ending the cycle of trauma that leads foster youth to unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and poverty. RightWay’s Operation Housing First houses former foster youth (ages 18-26, 90% Black, 9% Latinx) at risk of homelessness in permanent apartments and provide intensive trauma-informed case management, mental health services, and employment services as they start their careers, process their trauma, and build healthy adulthoods.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Within 18 months of leaving foster care, over 40% of foster youth will become homeless. Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care. 65% of youth leaving foster care need immediate housing upon discharge. Within less than 12 months of release, more than 80% of transition-age youth who have been incarcerated or justice involved experience homelessness. This crisis is exacerbated by the limited availability of transitional housing, high cost of living, inflated rental market, and high rate of unemployment. In LA County, over 50% of former foster youth will be unemployed by age 24, while those employed earn an average of only $7,500 a year. The unemployment rate of former foster youth is rooted in unresolved trauma from the foster care system, with the rate of PTSD for former foster youth more than twice that American war veterans, and structural racism that compounds trauma and increases risk of socioeconomic immobility.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

RightWay developed Operation Housing First to combat increased housing instability fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. With Operation Housing First, RightWay provides a permanent apartment with rental subsidies for homeless former foster and justice-involved youth, along with intensive case management, financial capability services, job training and placement, and therapy. While living in their safe, dedicated apartment, transition-age youth will have access to an array of supportive services: 1) Employment Services (job readiness training, trauma-informed workplace mentoring, one-on-one job coaching, paid internship/job placement); 2) Mental Health Services (one-on-one therapy, emotional support, empowerment and mental well-being workshops); 3) Financial Capability (basic finance workshops, credit-building services, credit check assistance); 4) Case Management (resource referrals, 24-hour crisis response); 5) Supportive Services (flex funding to support youth needs, including haircuts and essentials, internet connectivity, interview and workplace attire, transportation assistance, food assistance); and 6) Alumni Events (access to mentors, holiday celebrations, social events and outings, concerts). By providing immediate housing in an apartment of their own, intensive individualized mental health and employment services, basic needs assistance, healthy life skills workshops, and a dedicated community, RightWay partners with system-involved youth to build their own stability.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 1,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The biggest drivers of youth homelessness are the foster care and justice systems. In 2020, 4,775 youth experienced homelessness in LA County, a 19% increase over previous year. Homeless youth are more likely to be Black or Latinx due to systemic racism and trauma. To promote racial equity and stop generational poverty, comprehensive service-enriched programming is crucial in mitigating barriers to stability. In LA County, homeless youth must seek needed services at multiple locations, making it difficult to receive help. RightWay provides all supportive services in house, ensuring youth have the tools to propel themselves to stability. Our trauma-informed programs address the complexity of their needs and provide comprehensive support to overcome obstacles to a healthy adulthood. Operation Housing First will serve as a model, showing how universal basic income and/or rental assistance combined with intensive services transforms lives and possibilities for our most vulnerable youth.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Data shows that RightWay’s revolutionary, multidimensional approach is transforming outcomes for foster and reentry youth. Last year, 70% of participants secured and retained employment/paid-internship. 86% of participants have stable housing; 24% are enrolled in college. 90% of participants reported an increase in social support and a decrease in social isolation; 86% of participants receiving mental health services reported progress toward identified treatment goals; 80% experienced a decrease in symptoms and behaviors related to their mental health diagnoses. 86% who complete our programs return for supportive services. Only 2% have faced incarceration since being in our program. RightWay is breaking generational cycles of poverty and trauma. Together with our youth, RightWay creates a secure community that provides a sense of possibility that enables youth to move beyond structural and psychological barriers and prevent retraumatization and marginalization in adulthood.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Housing affordability

Access to mental health services


Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT