Since 2017 the Penny Lane Transition Aged Youth Drop in Centers have participated in the Los Angeles County Homeless Youth Count. Teams consist of team leads, volunteers, survey takers, and youth navigators that go into the field to canvas census tracts and survey homeless youth. In addition, TAY Drop in Centers have served as access centers for homeless youth to complete walk in surveys as well. Data from these surveys help Los Angeles County estimate the number of young people experiencing housing instability. The data collected also aids in deciding funding and resource allocation.
This year the LA County Youth Count was overseen by Lens Co in collaboration with USC and the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA). Penny Lane TAY Drop in Centers in Lancaster and Commerce assisted with the counts in SPA 1 and SPA 7 respectively. Housing Services assisted in SPA 2. Each year former TAY clients are given the opportunity to be trained as Youth Navigators who assist Penny Lane TAY staff with identifying and approaching potential homeless youth across the various census tracts. Their lived experience combined with their eagerness to give back to the community has been invaluable in collecting data.
The entire Youth Count process began back in September of 2022 when preliminary meetings started with TAY providers across LA County which included Penny Lane compensating TAY clients to identify areas where homelessness was observed aka “hotspots”. This included areas where homeless youth congregate as well as visible encampments. This early data was used to prioritize specific census tracts this year in order to make the process more efficient compared to past years.
While exhausting, the TAY staff from Lancaster and Commerce are committed to serving homeless youth and understand the demands each year that comes with participating in the LA County Youth Count. The hope is that the data collected this year can lead to more housing opportunities for our youth as well as more supportive services that can help them maintain housing through mental health, employment, and extracurricular linkages.
Check out some photos of our TAY Youth assisting with the homeless count below