Invest in Youth Coalition

The Numbers


The crisis of youth poverty devastates communities across the City. More than 200,000 Los Angeles youth lived below poverty. Child poverty has negative consequences that last a lifetime: poor children are less healthy, less likely to enter school ready to learn, and less likely to graduate from high school than their peers. As a result, these children are more likely to be poor as adults and more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system. While progress has been made at the local level to increase the minimum wage and redirect more dollars to schools in low-income communities, the number of youth living in poverty remains staggeringly high in several communities.

The share of youth living in poverty varies widely by district across the City. On average, each district contributes 7%, or 13,939 youth to the total. Council District 9 made up 14% (29,188), double the City average, in contrast, Council District 4 made up 3% (6,360) of the total. The poverty share in CD 5, 6, 13, and 14 is closer to the city average, though in district 5 it is mainly concentrated around the UCLA campus; CD 1, 8, and 15 make up a noteworthy share at 9% each (avg. 18,450); District 10 makes up 6% with 12,789; CD 2 and 7 contribute 5% each (avg. 10,968); and lastly, CD 3, 11, and 12 each make up 4% each (avg. 8,416).


Youth Living Below Poverty by LA City Council District (Ages 12-24)

Source: American Community Survey, 2015, 5-year

Disconnected Youth by Race (Ages 16-24; not connected to school or workforce)

Source: American Community Survey, 5-year, 2011-2015; microdata obtained from IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota,


Youth disconnection is a serious problem for the City of Los Angeles. Disconnected youth are young people who are not enrolled in school, are not high school graduates, and are either unemployed or not in the labor force. Youth disconnection has consequences not only for the young people involved, but also for the city’s economic and societal health. There were 68,947 disconnected youth in the city between the ages of 16 and 24. Due to data methodology, we can only provide an analysis of youth disconnection at the macro level. Even though we could only provide a generic account of youth disconnection, it is important to note that the highest rate of disconnection occurrences appear in South Los Angeles, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and neighborhoods in the Eastside.


The crisis of homelessness is intensifying across the City. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s most recent homeless count, more than 3,000 youth between the ages of 0-24 in the City of Los Angeles were homeless. Homelessness has negative consequences that last a lifetime: youth are often faced with the debilitating effects of mental health problems, caused by or made worse by homelessness, many youth turn to substances to help deal with the stress and desperation caused by unstable living arrangements, youth can resort to illegal activity as part of their strategy for survival, and lastly, youth face access barriers to education, keeping many of them from completing high school or post-secondary education. While progress has been made at the County and City level to increase services and housing stock for the homeless population, this issue is intensifying throughout the region.

Homeless Youth by LA City Council District (Ages 0-24)

Source: 2017 Youth Count, Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count; American Community Survey, 2015, 5-year estimates


Youth Arrests by LA City Council District (Ages 10-24)

Source: Arrest Data from 2016, LA City Open Data Portal 2017


A growing literature suggests that juvenile arrests increase the likelihood of future arrests. Research shows that the majority of youth naturally
“age out” of delinquent behavior, therefore arresting youth may actually disturb and delay the normal pattern of “aging out” since custody disrupts education, work opportunities, and family structures. More so, rates of delinquency peak in adolescence and decline quickly after about the age of 20. While progress has been made at the City level to decrease the level of contact between youth and the criminal justice system, the number of youth arrested in Los Angeles is concerning in several communities. Consequently, arresting a young person has more long-term consequences on a young person’s behavior and opportunities.

Arrests vary by district widely across the City. Looking at 2016, youth ages 10 to 24 made up 31,269 arrests. Council District 13 made up 13% (3931), more than double the City average, and in contrast, CD 5 made up 2% (647) of the total. The youth arrest share in CD 1, 10, and 15 is closer to the average at 7 (2044), 6 (1940), and 6 (1745) percent respectively; CD 6, 8, 9, and 11 make up a noteworthy share at 9 percent each respectively (avg. 2837); CD 14 added 8% (2459) CD 3, 7, and 12 contributed 5% each (avg. 1544); and lastly, CD 2 and 4 each contributed 4% (avg. 1261) to the total youth arrest figure for 2016.


Students who drop out of school before high school graduation face lower economic and social outcomes. Compared to graduates, they are less likely find a job and earn a living wage, and more likely to be poor and to suffer from a variety of adverse health outcomes. In addition, they are more likely to rely on public assistance and have a higher chance of engaging in criminal activity. While progress has been made in LAUSD to increase graduation numbers, issues around dropout rates should be addressed in high-need communities.

Dropout rates vary by district widely across the City. Looking at a cohort of 71,492 LAUSD students from 2015-16, the dropout rate was 12%, or 8,403 students. The rate in CD 1 was 21%, 10% more than the City average, in contrast, the rate in CD 4 and 11 was 5%. The rate CD 2 and 15 was closer to the average at 12%; CD 13 and 14 had noticeably high rates at 20 and 18 percent; CD 8 and 9 calculated to 14 and 13 percent; CD 7 and 10 each had a 9% dropout rate; CD 3 and 5 had a 8% rate; and lastly, CD 6 and 12 had a dropout rate of 7 and 6 percent.


Students who Dropped out of Cohort 2015-16 by LA City Council District

Source: California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, 2015-16