Brandi Brown-Shock always had a place in her heart to help youth, having worked for more than two decades at Para Los Niños, a nonprofit that supports underserved youth in Los Angeles. Now, the Long Beach native wants to give back to her community by founding House of Haven, a hub for homeless and at-risk youth, which she plans to open in May.

Brown-Shock, 47, had noticed that in the past several years, she saw an increase of homeless youth coming through the doors of Para Los Niños.

“Like, man,” she said she thought, “What is going on?”

Wanting to fill a gap in services in Long Beach, House of Haven will offer free showers, food, computer access, meals, clothing, hygiene kits, a small laundry facility, case management, transportation assistance, workshops, education, employment assistance, or just a space to “be able to come lay their head.”

Brown-Shock, who will be CEO of the operation, said she aims to serve at least 300 youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 annually inside her 1,200-square-foot center near the Carmelitos housing community in North Long Beach.

Brandi Brown-Shock opens cabinets containing hygiene products at House of Haven in North Long Beach on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

The nonprofit is supported through fundraising, board donations, and Brown-Shock’s personal contribution, she said. She plans on applying for additional funding from foundations and government grants.

House of Haven won’t offer long-term housing, but Brown-Shock does hope to eventually offer short-term, temporary housing. The space will primarily function as a place to hang out, where young people can get referrals to services.

More than 4 million youth and young adults experience homelessness nationwide, and according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 50% of homeless youth are unsheltered—sleeping outside, in a car, or someplace not meant for human habitation. Studies suggest that homeless youth are more likely to keep living on the streets well into adulthood.

The most recent Los Angeles County homeless count in Supervisorial District 4, which encompasses Long Beach, showed a 17% decrease in homeless youth under age 18 between 2020 and 2021. Similarly, for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, there was a 19% drop.

In Long Beach, the most recent data shows an 8% increase in homeless youth under age 18 and a 3% increase in young adults ages 18-24, both between 2019 and 2020. The city’s homeless count took a hiatus in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the count resumed in February, the city has yet to publish the latest data on its website. The city is still finalizing the count and will be posting it by mid-May, an official said.

Differences between county and city figures might be an indication that there’s some work still to be done to reduce homelessness among youth and young adults in Long Beach.

For instance, there has not been any transition-age youth shelter in Long Beach, and the nearest one is 25 miles away in LA. In absence of that, Brown-Shock wants to create a space to link youth and young adults who are “disconnected” to more services and resources.

Brandi Brown-Shock, CEO and founder of House of Haven, works on her laptop inside her soon-to-open hub for youth and young adults in North Long Beach on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Every youth who enters House of Haven will have to complete a needs-based assessment, which is available in person at the site or online. Brown-Shock and her soon-to-be-hired team will then identify their needs and track them in their internal database to determine the outcomes.

House of Haven is at 5231 Atlantic Ave. To contact the nonprofit for services, click here.