The focus of this project is to improve access to mental health services for youth that are experiencing houselessness in Los Angeles.


Houselessness is a known, complex issue. According to the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, approximately 580,000 people in the United States were experiencing homelessness; 61% were in sheltered locations, and 39% were in unsheltered locations. 34,000 of those individuals experiencing homelessness were under the age of 25, most of which were between the ages of 18 and 24. In Los Angeles alone, over 66,000 thousand people were logged as experiencing homelessness, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. In that same year, approximately 11,000 unsheltered individuals reported long-term mental-health conditions.


The first phase of the project was about building connections with local organizations that could inform our path forward on this topic. We set up a community well-being workshop with the help of the organizers at A Community of Friends (ACOF).  The workshop served approximately 20 residents of ACOF. Residents were formally unhoused, and have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. The workshop revealed some key takeaway: There is a distinct need for community and connection. During the workshop, thoughtful question cards built a positive rapport; residents were given the space and compassion to share their stories, backgrounds, and build relationships with both the Shaper volunteers and their fellow residents. This workshop emphasized the importance of building belonging and community when it comes to supporting our neighbors. 


This upcoming phase of the project is focused on building up an Expert Committee that can inform that project's next steps. This group will include experts from various organizations that specialize in serving the houseless community, as well as those with lived experience. From there, hypotheses and collaboration will be honed-in to provide clear next-steps for the Hub to take on this important topic.