Creating Homes/Preventing Homelessness for L.A. Foster Youth
A Sense of Home’s model revolves around Home Creations, where our team of volunteers and “alumni” youth transform empty, unworkable living spaces into fully functional and emotionally comforting homes by selecting over 250 customized items including furniture, home goods, and appliances for each transition-age foster youth (TAY) served in Los Angeles County. By also connecting each youth to wrap-around services, providing mentorship and a community of support, ASOH equips youth with skills and resources to achieve their full potential.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Housing and Homelessness
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
In L.A. County, COVID-19 led to a dramatic spike – 10% – in the number of foster youth in the system from 2019. Now there are almost 40,000 youth in foster care in L.A. County, the largest of any county in the nation. Approximately 10% age-out of foster care annually. “Aging out” means that a youth will no longer have their needs met by the state and must quickly become self-sufficient – identify and maintain housing, find a job, and manage their own finances. Within 18 months of emancipation, about half will become homeless and one-quarter will be incarcerated. A lack of basic home furnishings is one of the factors that causes homelessness or housing instability for transition aged youth. “Furniture poverty” is the inability to access or afford furniture or home goods that are essential to achieving the most basic standard of living. Research shows that this lack of fundamental home furnishings directly contributes to homelessness and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
The Solution: Home Creations Knowing that stable housing is one of the most important social determinants of health, ASOH prevents homelessness through its Home Creations. By leveraging excess and returned new household items from our strong network of corporate partnerships with major brands – totaling $1 million in donated furniture annually – and the volunteer efforts of various communities, we create homes for one of L.A.’s most under-resourced youth populations. For the first time in two years since the start of the pandemic, ASOH has returned to providing Home Creations on location at each youth’s home. Up until March 2022, ASOH conducted remote Home Creations from our warehouse to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. We are overjoyed to return to our traditional model for Home Creations where the ASOH team collects everything needed at our warehouse to fully furnish the homes. Between 15-30 volunteers meet the ASOH team at the youth’s new home, where they unload the truck and furnish the home typically within 90 minutes. Program staff work one-on-one with each youth and connect them to ongoing mentorship, gainful employment, therapy and wellness services, parenting skills, and support to achieve their academic goals. Youth are also welcomed into a network of resilient peers, successful adults/potential employers and service providers–providing ongoing wrap-around resources and referrals through ASOH's Resource Network https://asenseofhome.org/resource-network/.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
ASOH’s primary goal is to create a home for every foster youth in Los Angeles County who has recently aged-out of the foster care system and secured Section 8 housing. The ASOH model provides the basic necessities – a 250 + item “home kit” designed and lovingly installed by the ASOH community – for an individual to improve their life and a home environment that transforms and inspires youth to surpass their goals in education, career and health. With support through LA2050 Grants Challenge, we will disrupt the cycle of homelessness and poverty that plagues L.A.’s TAY foster youth. Our Home Creations and comprehensive services will make L.A. a better place to live, create, and connect for 35 youth and their families by: 1.Removing the financial impossibility of furnishing their homes, 2.Providing comprehensive resource services to address immediate and ongoing needs, and 3.Welcoming them into a network of resilient peers, successful adults/potential employers and service providers.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
ASOH believes that the crisis of homelessness affecting TAY foster youth can only end through preventative models like ours that provide each recipient with a welcoming, functional living space, a community of care and mentorship, and comprehensive resource services and wrap-around supports. From here, the ASOH experience has a ripple effect for these youth, their children, and siblings that ensures the future well-being and lasting stability of entire families. Once a home is created, our questionnaires have shown: •86.2% of recipients report feeling in control of their finances. •100% of recipients report feeling hopeful about their future. •100% of recipients report feeling confident in their ability to succeed. Since our founding 6 years ago, ASOH has created 750+ homes for 1,825+ youth and their families, thanks to 21,900+ volunteers and 182,500+ donated items installed. As a testament to our impact, 100% of youth have maintained their tenancy after receiving Home Creations.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 350
Indirect Impact: 2,000