Remembering and Honoring the Lives of LA’s Homeless Youth

VOICES--On Friday, December 21st, the South Los Angeles Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative (Collaborative), along with civic and religious leaders and other local partners, will honor the lives of homeless youth who have passed away and those experiencing loss during the holiday season with an interfaith prayer and candlelight vigil. 

The vigil comes at an important time for the South Los Angeles region.  This is the first year that there is no winter shelter for Transitional-Aged Youth (TAY), ages 18-25, who need a safe place to sleep during the winter season. 

The month of December is one of the longest and most stressful periods for homeless youth suffering trauma due to a lack of stable housing and a strong support system. Without a TAY Winter Shelter, youth in need are at a loss for a developmentally appropriate emergency housing solution to assist with stabilizing. 

The Collaborative is gathering 100 community members to embrace love and compassion for youth experiencing homelessness, to offer prayers of comfort, and to mobilize congregations and residents against NIMBYism, a current issue that has thwarted TAY Winter Shelter this year.    

“This act of comfort for the loss is also a call to action for the living. The vulnerability and insecurity caused by homelessness demand urgent engagement and collective commitment from all sectors of society,” said Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Chair of the South Los Angeles Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative and Commissioner for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “Shelter, whether temporary or permanent is the great stabilizer for young people and families afflicted with homelessness. Join us as we pray with open eyes, minds, hands and hearts.”  

With the approach of a colder and wetter winter in Los Angeles, the Collaborative is reminding the community of their Covenant of Engagement, a promise to do something to end youth homelessness – a call to action from the local community plan to prevent and end youth homelessness:  

  • Visit local youth serving organizations and contact them to donate, volunteer, or get more information on how you can get involved. 
  • Offer platforms to dialogue about youth experiencing homelessness. 
  • Participate in the upcoming January 2019 Homeless Count  

“As a Pastor, I am often reminded that Jesus too was rejected on a cold night and told there was no room in the inn and that we are called to do something. Our city is judged not by how many fine dining restaurants but how many of our neighbors are forced to fend for themselves in the cold and the rain, especially the most vulnerable among us,” said Rev. Edward Anderson, Pastor of McCarty Memorial Christian Church. “Tonight, we declare we all are holy and deserving of shelter and resources and remember those youth who are no longer with us because of refusal of shelter.” 

The Collaborative’s Youth Remembrance Ceremony will be held on Friday, December 21st, 6:30 pm, McCarty Memorial Christian Church, 4103 W. Adams, Los Angeles, CA 90018 and is held in conjunction with National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, an annual event commemorated in more than 150 cities and counties across the United States.  

(The South Los Angeles Homeless TAY and Foster Care Collaborative is a coalition of business, government, nonprofits, and residents working to prevent and end homelessness for South Los Angeles’ Transition Age Youth. For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.southlatay.org.)