The Homeless Youth Legal and Advocacy Project (HYLAP) is made possible by a generous grant from the San Diego County Bar Foundation - Indigent Defense Fund, This program is a direct response to national estimates which state that close to 1.6 million children and youth (12-17) experience homelessness without a parent or guardian. Specifically, there are an estimated 200,000 youth ages 12-17 who experience homelessness every year in California, many of whom are escaping abuse, only to be further victimized on the street by adults.
HYLAP serves to address criminal defense issues that are hindering homeless youth from positive growth and our advocacy component will provide them with emotional support as they face legal challenges, connect those who have been recently displaced with medical and mental health services that will help them back on their feet, and aid with job resources to assist in their finding employment. In addition, the Project provides an opportunity to conduct and collect first hand interviews, gathering narratives and personal anecdotes from a group of individuals that are unseen and, many times, unidentifiable. This gathered information would enable TD to disseminate findings to the community at large; better understanding an extremely vulnerable population.
TD’s legal services are intended to provide basic dignity to people that face an undeniable stigma for not having access even to basic resources. It is particularly distressing to be forced to live on the streets or in a shelter; not only is the act of being homeless a traumatic event, but whatever prompted the person into homelessness might have been equally traumatic – especially for a young person. TD’s HYLAP serves to empower the homeless and at-risk youth of San Diego and give this community blighted with poverty, abuse and discrimination an opportunity for sustainable improvement through quality pro-bono legal services.