Creating Homes/Preventing Homelessness for L.A. Foster Youth
A Sense of Home provides critical housing support for 150 transition-age foster youth (TAY) throughout L.A. County a year. Our 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 (furniture, home goods, and appliances) for each TAY. We also equip youth with skills and resources to achieve their full potential through wrap-around services, mentorship and a community of support.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
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?
Youth aging out of foster care are charged with the almost insurmountable feat of securing housing, finding employment, and quickly becoming self-sufficient all on their own. In the most competitive market with the highest cost of living in the U.S., L.A. has the largest TAY population. To compound challenges facing TAY as they "age out," the cost of furnishings and household goods is higher than ever, stretching their extremely limited means even further. The latest consumer price index shows that household furnishing costs jumped by 9.3% year over year. "Furniture poverty" is the inability to afford household furniture or home goods essential to achieving the most basic standard of living. With no furniture and no financial means to attain any, they and their children sleep, sit, study and eat on bare floors. Unsurprisingly, research shows that this lack of fundamental home furnishings directly contributes to homelessness, housing instability, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
For most youth who have endured the foster system, home is neither safe nor secure. While other organizations exist to support foster youths' transition to independence, no other organization provides critical support every step of the way for TAY to obtain, fully furnish, and maintain stable supportive housing. ASOH partners with L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to help TAY secure housing vouchers. ASOH is the only organization that partners with DCFS to directly refer former foster youth for rapid re-housing services and expedited housing assistance. Once TAY youth receive the keys to their apartment, ASOH turns their empty space into a functioning and inspired home. At Home Creations, our team works with volunteers to collect everything needed at our warehouse to fully furnish the homes and load the delivery truck. Then 15-25 volunteers meet at the youth's new home, where they unload the truck and furnish the home within 90 minutes. A celebratory lunch follows, with the recipient youth telling their story and volunteers sharing their hopes for the recipient. Every participant gets the opportunity to volunteer to create another home, learn from healthy role models, and are invited to become peer mentors joining our "Pay it Forward Alumni" (PIFA) Community. We also provide TAY with critical connections to ongoing mentorship, gainful employment, therapy/wellness services, parenting skills, and support to succeed in school and in their careers.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
ASOH's goal is to create a home for every foster youth in L.A. 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 achieve their academic and professional goals. An LA2050 grant will bolster our core programming at a crucial time when TAY are facing a heightened risk of homelessness due to conditions exacerbated by the pandemic. We recently hired a Community Resource Navigator to solidify referrals with community partners, provide case management, and connect TAY with job-readiness/placement resources, therapy/wellness services, parenting, life skills workshops, and all the tools to thrive. This grant will be pivotal to supporting our program expansion by deepening the impact of our comprehensive resource services.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Since our founding ASOH has created 830+ homes for 2,000+ youth and their families, thanks to more than 21,900 volunteers and 260,037+ donated items installed. A testament to our impact, 93% of youth have maintained their tenancy after five years. Our services are only successful if the homes we create result in the long-term tenancy, success, and well-being of our recipients. Gathering both quantitative and qualitative data, we keep in close touch with home recipients and track progress toward their educational and vocational goals, in addition to home retention. We administer pre- and post-questionnaires, created by early attachment specialist Dr. Victoria Stevens, for youth recipients to measure emotional intelligence, life skills, hope, and self-worth. Our questionnaires show: -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.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 350
Indirect Impact: 24,000