Discussing the Link Between Health and Employment and Housing for Young People and Families
Young people independently supporting themselves or receiving little support from their families can benefit from resources provided by the community in spaces that are welcoming and accessible. One example of this is a pop-up resource fair called Dress for Success, made possible by hundreds of clothing donations and the help of staff and volunteers, to consult with youth about issues that affect their lives: health, housing, and jobs. Having stable housing and employment are connected to better health.
The event was hosted by Connect to Protect Los Angeles combining the people power of several local agencies such as the Risk Reduction Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, AltaMed, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles, the host of the event at their South Los Angeles office. These local agencies were ready to assist young people select clothing and shoes to support their career goals, give college advice, and provide free HIV tests and demonstrate how to use home testing kits—a relatively new tool now accessible to people at select pharmacies and drug stores.
While the event was intended for young people to acquire new and gently used clothing for future job interviews along with the opportunity to consult with peer health educators and college representatives, the event attracted people of all ages and families nearby who needed these resources too.
There were many people who sought housing assistance and advice regarding legal issues. Attorneys and staff people provided free consultations and referrals to these individuals and families having a difficult time as tenants facing rent increases and other problematic systems issues.
Fernando Gaytan, attorney at Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles, says, “Several studies have shown what most of us find obvious—where you live matters. People living in certain zip codes where segregation, disinvestment and environmental degradation have prevailed are found to have a lower life expectancy than their counterparts in more affluent neighborhoods. The quality of housing available can also impact a young person’s overall health by reducing physiological and psychological health as well as financial well being. Where a person lives can determine access to health care, educational opportunities, jobs as well as access to parks, fresh food and transportation. The overall costs to health and self-esteem, even of short stints of homelessness, can be profound. The nexus between housing and health is one that cannot be ignored at any stage in life, but especially not for young people just starting out.”