Measure of Hearts Foundation (MOHF) was founded in 2019 by Aristela Roberson, a former foster youth and someone who has been justice impacted. She established MOHF a 501(c)(3) non profit organization to fulfill her long-time vision of creating a space to support young women, who, like her younger self, are facing significant barriers as they age out of the foster care system or return from incarceration.
Like many transitional age foster youth, when Aristela aged out of the foster care system at 18, she did not have adequate support from the foster system and experienced homeslessness for an extended period of time. As a young woman living in survival mode without necessary resources, she became involved in criminal activities and at 25, ended up serving time in prison.
After returning from prison, Stela attended a vocational school, gained a college degree and became employed at prominent medical facilities in the Los Angeles area. Although she felt a sense of accomplishment in changing the trajectory of her life, her job was not fulfilling–she daydreamed at work about how she could give back to young women who were also aging out of the foster care system, or returning home from incarceration, and facing what felt like insurmountable barriers such as locating housing, jobs, and support systems. She dreamt about providing the resources that she didn’t have to these young women: resources like housing, employment, education, and navigating reentry.
Which is why in 2019, when she received a call from her husband about a duplex that he and his business partner were not sure what to do with because of it's nontraditional layout, she knew that it was time to make her dream a reality. As someone with lived experience in similar housing settings such as foster care and prison, she knew that this lay out would meet the needs of transitional age youth (TAY), individuals experiencing homelessness, and returning citizens.
The first housing site has a 20 bed capacity and over the years, MOHF has continually grown in capacity. Today, MOHF operates seven housing facilities in South Los Angeles with 75 bed capacity. We are actively working to increase the number of individuals we can house, as well as building out additional programs–outreach, navigating reentry, education, and employment–to provide wraparound services for our clients.