Transforming Los Padrinos

From Juvenile Incarceration to a Home for Homeless Youth

History of Los Padrinos

After Los Padrinos’ closure in the summer of 2019, Jovenes and Los Angeles County began working together to transform the former Hope Center at the juvenile hall into a shelter for young women. Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall is the second oldest juvenile hall in the county of Los Angeles, and is located in Downey, CA. Established in 1957, Los Padrinos served as a temporary holding facility for children awaiting court proceedings, and was one of three juvenile halls located in Los Angeles County and overseen by the Los Angeles County Probation Department. In addition to the detention center, Los Padrinos houses a juvenile court. After several years of operations, Los Padrinos went under review, resulting in a $36 million expansion that allowed for the creation of two new housing facilities, nearly tripling the occupancy. After the expansion, Los Padrinos had the capacity to hold approximately 500 incarcerated juveniles, with ages ranging from 12 – 18. Los Padrinos’ population breakdown was 85% male, with the remaining 15% of women residing in separate housing facilities on the premise.

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In July of 1990, after California Youth Authority decertified the then-33-year-old overcrowded facility because the youth being detained there were sleeping on the floor, staff were not processing health reports in a timely fashion, and the facilities failed to meet fire codes. Los Padrinos at the time was designed to hold 401 youth, but had a youth population of 741 awaiting trial or serving sentences.

In December 1998, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury performed a management audit of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall to assess the overall physical condition of the juvenile hall to determine whether the County has allocated sufficient resources for the maintenance, appropriately planned for replacement, and determined future needs. They concluded that Los Padrinos was an aging facility that experienced many years of unfunded maintenance. They recommended a list of repairs and improvements to be undertaken by the management at Los Padrinos. In the years since this judgment, Los Padrinos continued operating as a place of incarceration for youth, with a mixed track record which highlights the challenges that come with high levels of juvenile incarceration. After nearly six decades of operations, Los Padrinos closed its doors in the summer of 2019. 

This project marks an opportunity to move away from youth incarceration towards more innovative solutions to address the crisis of youth homelessness. 

Turning the Page

Jovenes & LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office began discussion a new future for Los Padrinos in early 2020. After touring the Hope Center (one of the newer buildings at Los Padrinos), and bringing along young women currently living in Jovenes’ housing programs, we’ve come up with a plan to refurbish the facility and create a home that is welcoming and uplifting.

This project represents a new opportunity for social justice – one that deprioritizes incarceration and instead focuses on helping youth meet their basic needs and reintegrate into our community. We are excited to envision a new future for Los Padrinos while creating much needed housing support for young people who are experiencing homelessness.

A New Direction for Los Padrinos

From Juvenile Hall to Bridge-Housing for Young Women

The first floor of the Hope Center has been converted into a crisis/bridge housing program for young women who are experiencing homelessness. This represents a transformative opportunity to take what was once a place of incarceration and turn it into a home where young women can live with comfort and implement a plan for their future. This project meets a dual need facing LA County: there is both a shortage of housing for people experiencing homelessness as well as an over-investment in incarceration, and represents the continuation of Jovenes’ commitment to social justice and creating opportunities for young people to thrive.

Up to twenty young women can be housed in this program at a time, with an anticipated length of stay between three to six months. Jovenes is well equipped to provide crisis/bridge housing at the Los Padrinos facility. This bridge housing is intended to respond to the immediate needs of homeless female youth in order to provide a safe and stable place to live while they develop a personalized service plan with their case manager.

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 Currently there are no crisis/shelter housing beds dedicated to female youth in Southeast LA County, so this program is meeting an important need in our communities. As the youth lead for the Coordinated Entry System in the communities surrounding the facility, Jovenes is able to integrate this program within our other housing programs in order to create a viable path to permanent housing placement.

Through housing and supportive services/case management, we seek to provide youth with the resources and support they need to access vital benefits and physical/mental health care, gather personal identification documents, obtain employment, further their education, and ultimately move into longer term stable housing. All youth staying in this facility will receive:

  • • Standardized assessment and data entry
  • • Case management
  • • Residential supervision, crisis intervention, and security
  • • Life skills development
  • • Educational or vocational supports
  • • Housing first and harm reduction
  • • Partnering with others, exits to permanent housing, and self-sustaining youth


We seek to turn cells into bedrooms while creating spaces for our guests to learn, play, grow, and recover from trauma. Most importantly, we will continue to provide the individualized case management and supportive services that Jovenes is built upon in order to give our clients an opportunity to hope and embark on a new journey. We hope to have our first residents move into the facility by December 28, 2020.

Facility Updates

Common Area

The common area will be redesigned to be less industrial and more homey. The pre-existing furniture will be replaced to create a more appropriate and welcoming atmosphere.

Common Area After

The common area has been updated, with the previous furnishings replaced with brighter and more welcoming materials.


There are 30 former cells that will be converted into bedroom spaces. Each space will be renovated to provide more storage space, and will include sectioning off the toilet area to make the space feel less industrial and more personal.

Bedrooms After

Each bedroom has been repainted and refurbished to be more welcoming and comfortable to each of our young women. There is now storage for clothing and personal belongings, as well as an updated and private bathroom area.


There are three pre-existing classrooms that will be renovated and utilized for different purposes. One room will be converted into a recreation room, one will be converted to a computer lab, and the remaining room will serve as a flexible space for guest educators.

Classrooms After

We have converted three classrooms into multi-purpose spaces: a computer lab (pictured above), a professional space, and a recreation room. These spaces will provide a spacious and welcoming atmosphere for our youth to socialize, continue their endeavours, and relax.

Jovenes has renovated the interior spaces of Los Padrinos to create a welcoming and accommodating bridge-housing/emergency housing program for young women. We focused our renovations on three main sections:

  1.      1. Common Areas
  2.      2. Bedrooms
  3.      3. Classrooms

These spaces were renovated to provide a comfortable and inviting space for both our youth and guests in the facility. 

If you are interested in helping continue to transform Los Padrinos, please contact Eric Hubbard, our Director of Development. 



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