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Youth Homelessness and Mental Health in Los Angeles

Published June 3, 2021 at 2:14 PM PDT
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Tents used by the homeless line a downtown Los Angeles street with the skyline behind Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Tents used by the homeless line a downtown Los Angeles street with the skyline behind Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.

About 5,000 young people are currently experiencing it in Los Angeles County. The reasons vary from abuse and conflict in the home... to housing and economic insecurity experienced by entire families. Now, after more than a year of a pandemic, advocates worry those numbers could climb.

Already, many of these youth carry trauma from their childhoods into their homeless experience, and that instability of being on the street and unhoused only compounds the fear, stress and anxiety that many feel. 

What happens when you move around a lot and can't form stable relationships? Lack a permanent place to stay, or any kind of consistency? How can young people push through that with the right treatment, and what support is needed from the city to the county to the state to help them get there? 

These are the questions we discussed during an event last Thursday, examining the intersection of youth homelessness and mental health. It was produced in conjunction with Call to Mind, American Public Media's initiative to foster new conversations about mental health. 

Take Two was joined by three young women who had experienced homelessness in their youth and three clinicians and experts working for homeless services in Los Angeles.  


  • Angela M. Sanchez, Alumna and Board Member of School on Wheels, Inc.
  • Jennifer Myers, Advisory Board Member for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
  • Sarah Fay, Peer Navigator for Safe Place for Youth
  • Daniel Ballin, Clinical Director at Covenant House California
  • Erin Casey, Director of Programs at My Friend's Place Los Angeles
  • Dr. Diane Tanaka, Medical Director of the Homeless Adolescent and Young Adult Wellness Center Children's Hospital in Los Angeles
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