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Season of Service Opens Discussion on Homelessness Luskin hosts series of panels to discuss homelessness in Los Angeles

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By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer

As part of the Season of Service series, which highlights projects that aid underserved populations, the Luskin School of Public Affairs hosted two recent events where panelists discussed how organizations can contribute to a solution to homelessness in the Los Angeles region.

Panelists included representatives of local organizations and of the UCLA community committed to changing the lives of those in chronic homelessness.

On Oct. 28 an event titled “Nowhere to Call Home” focused on the issue of homeless youth.

Though Los Angeles has the highest homeless population in the nation and there have been efforts to find solutions to veteran and chronic homelessness, homeless youth are often overlooked. Homeless youth are defined as individuals between the ages of 13 and 24 who live on the streets, in shelters or who “couchsurf” in homes of friends and family.

The panelists discussed the causes and challenges that homeless youth encounter in particular. For many young people, family conflicts lead them to run away from their homes. The discussion also included interesting facts such as 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

Homeless youth are also less likely to welcome traditional services, often focused on the adult homeless population, which raises a need for services that target youth.

The discussion focused on efforts by service providers and housing agencies to move from transitional housing to permanent housing in a “Housing First” model, explained by Andrea Marchetti, the executive director of Jovenes, Inc.

Finding permanent housing solutions was also discussed on Tuesday night with a panel titled “New Ideas in Coordinated Entry.” The discussion centered on how the fairly new Coordinated Entry System process is a way to connect homeless populations to housing organizations in a quick and efficient way.

The Season of Service series will continue to explore solutions to these problems and other projects in upcoming events. On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Luskin School will be hosting an event on homelessness as a housing problem. This panel will look at housing from an urban planning prospective and explore the challenge of affordable housing.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, UCLA Luskin is participating in United Way’s HomeWalk 2014 – a 5K run/walk to end homelessness. It is not too late to join the UCLA Luskin team, donate and/or keep fundraising! For information on joining the UCLA Luskin team for HomeWalk 2014, contact Tammy Borrero at tborrero@luskin.ucla.edu. For more information on HomeWalk, visit www.homewalkla.org.

Public Policy students Elizabeth Swain and Edith Medina Huarita contributed to this story.