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Jovenes, Inc.

From Handcuffs to House Keys

Nonprofit

From handcuffs to house keys, Jovenes is showing a new opportunity for social justice, one that de-prioritizes incarceration and instead focuses on helping youth meet their basic needs and reintegrate into our community, through the transformation of former Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. What was once a place of juvenile incarceration is now a home for homeless young women. Opened in January 2021, this program creates much needed crisis/bridge housing in Southeast LA County to help youth meet their basic needs and reintegrate into our community.



Describe the mission of your organization.

Jovenes was founded in 1989, with a mission of empowering homeless and at-risk youth to become integrated members of their communities by providing an innovative program of stable housing options, compassionate care, life skills training, and employment support for young adults seeking a path to life change.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Our program at Los Padrinos seeks to address the lack of housing for homeless youth, and the overbuilt environment of incarceration in our community. Jovenes is transforming a former place of incarceration into a much needed housing and supportive services program for young women who are experiencing homelessness. There are high rates of homelessness alongside unused and empty buildings, resulting in our motivation for creative housing solutions. According to the 2020 Homeless Count 4,673 youth are experiencing homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County, with 19% residing in Jovenes’ geographic area alone. Although the youth we serve come from diverse backgrounds, four common barriers to a stable future are found throughout our target population: barriers to safe, supportive, and affordable housing; difficulty accessing basic benefits and health services; limitations to educational advancement and economic development; and overcoming trauma.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Jovenes is seeking support to address the crisis of youth homelessness through our emergency/bridge-housing program at the former Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. We are seeking to enhance the services we are able to provide with this program so our youth have the best opportunities to end their personal cycle of homelessness. Though there are other jail conversion projects taking place in Los Angeles, this is a first-of-its-kind program and one-of-a-kind to address the needs of the specific community that we serve, as there are no crisis/shelter housing beds dedicated to female youth in Southeast LA County. Up to 20 women can be housed in this program at a time, with an anticipated length of stay between three to six months. Through housing and supportive services/case management, we seek to provide youth with the resources and support they need to access vital benefits and physical/mental health care, gather personal identification documents, obtain employment, further their education, and ultimately move into longer term stable housing. From handcuffs to house keys, this program directly shows how de-prioritizing incarceration and focusing on helping youth meet their basic needs can help youth reintegrate into our community. A grant from My LA2050 will help Jovenes provide all the young women at Los Padrinos with the case management and resources necessary to achieve not just immediate needs, but also a long-term solution to end their personal cycles of homelessness.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

50
Direct impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our program at Los Padrinos is incredibly impactful to Los Angeles County, with the potential to create lasting change, as there is now a template and standard for these kinds of conversion projects. Other conversion projects have seen incredibly long timelines due to budgetary issues halting work and preventing completion. That is not the case with our work, in which LA County approved our project in late October 2020, and we had our first residents move on New Year’s Day, showing our rapid and effective development and implementation. There is a future for decreased incarceration, and increase in community support because we have ensured it is possible by providing a safe and stable place for homeless young women to live and thrive, by helping our youth become self-sufficient, which enables them to integrate back into their communities independently as empowered young adults.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Jovenes tracks the number of clients served at Los Padrinos, the services accessed, exit destinations, public benefits, and employment obtained. This allows us to evaluate the overall success of the program, as well as the success of subpopulations with specific needs and/or personal experiences. We communicate directly with clients to track our success in a qualitative manner to gain a first-hand perspective on the overall quality of our program. The feedback our youth provide to us helps us evaluate our program, track challenges each youth faces, & measure success as they overcome challenges. Since opening our doors in January 2021, we have already seen heightened success in our program, as we are operating at full capacity, and have already began to transition youth into longer-term housing.

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Housing affordability
  • Resilient communities
  • Homelessness

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