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Youth Homelessness Increases In Los Angeles

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Homelessness on Skid Row, photographed on June 30, 2019 in Los Angeles. (James Bernal for LAist)
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The L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released the results of its 2020 youth homeless count, which shows a 19% increase across Los Angeles county from the year before. The “youth” count surveys young adults between 18-24, unaccompanied minors, and family units where the parent is under 24 who are experiencing homelessness.

The hard number is 4,775 young people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County. They are included in the county’s overall total of more than 66,000 unhoused individuals.

But the press briefing on Thursday also included a presentation made by Dr. Jennifer Kottke, of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

In her presentation, Kottke said that, using a different definition of homelessness than LAHSA, her office found that there were more than 57,700 homeless K-12 students in L.A. County when LAHSA performed its annual homeless count.

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The giant difference between the education numbers and the LAHSA estimate comes down to whether or not people couchsurfing, living in hotels, or families doubled or tripled up in a single housing unit, count as “homeless.”

Schools use a definition of homelessness set by the federal Department of Education that does count those situations as “homeless.” LAHSA’s definition of homelessness, set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, doesn’t count those situations as “homeless.”

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