Grand Park— The 9th Annual LA Taco Festival was held Saturday, August 17th, on Spring Street at City Hall, refreshing crowds of Angelenos from the sweltering, late summer sun.

Sponsored by Jovenes Inc., the festival’s purpose is to raise awareness about youth homelessness, as well as fund raise for Jovenes’ programs, which are dedicated to combating this important issue.

“On any given night, there’s at least four thousand homeless youths in Los Angeles,” says Eric Hubbard, Jovenes Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships.

The shocking reality is that 1 in 5 community college students in the City of Los Angeles experiences homelessness during their academic career— a sobering statistic considering LA’s booming youth culture. This organization helps these struggling students end their cycle of homelessness by arranging housing, healthcare, education, employment and trauma recovery.

Established in the late 1980’s by Fr. Richard Estrada, a parish priest at La Placita Church on Olvera Street in DTLA, Jovenes began by assisting unaccompanied youth from Central America who were fleeing violence and despair from their home countries. Many of these children ended up on the steps of La Placita, which moved Fr. Richard’s heart with compassion for them.

“We have to do something about this,” he’s famously quoted as saying. He opened his home in East LA to these desperate adolescents, providing for them with food, shelter and ultimately hope of a safe future. In 1990, together in partnership with a few charitable friends, Fr. Estrada officially founded Jovenes Inc. as a home and family, for those without.

“We’re one of the agencies in Los Angeles who’s really committed to providing housing and supportive services to address this issue,” Eric Hubbard expressed.

Food vendors of all kinds lined Spring Street providing >>tacos, aguas frescas, burgers, Thai food, ice cream, funnel cake<< to name only a few options for festival goers. Some goodies came free— Haagen-daz was giving away ice cream in the shade; and plant-based protein pioneers Lightlife were dropping free burger samplers. A stage was set in the park for live music and dancing, as well.

Overall, what they hope everyone takes away from their 9th Annual Los Angeles Taco Festival is this…

“We want people to be aware of the issues and think about community college homelessness here is Los Angeles,” concluded Mr. Hubbard.

If you’d like to learn more about youth homelessness or Jovenes Inc., please visit