On Friday Jeff Kositsky, Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), announced the good news that $2.9 million has been granted to the city of San Francisco to help tackle youth homelessness.
Nationwide, there were 35,686 unaccompanied homeless youths in January 2016, with 89 percent between the ages of 18 and 24. The remaining 11 percent were under 18.
As our sister publication the Examiner reported last December, San Francisco has the highest rate of youth experiencing homelessness in the nation. Last year, there were 1,488 unaccompanied homeless youths counted across the city.
The “unaccompanied” detail is an important one to note—while there are a number of homeless children living in shelters or on the streets with their families, it’s the number of unaccompanied youth on San Francisco’s streets that set us apart from other major metropolitan cities.
The $2.9 million grant comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP), and is part of $33 million program dedicated to helping 10 communities end youth homelessness. San Francisco is one of six urban areas selected to receive aid.
The city has not yet determined where the money will go, and will undertake a community planning process to determine what specific projects should be funded. There are a number of youth-centric homeless organizations that exist in the city, including Taking It To The Streets, Homeless Youth Alliance, and Larkin Street Youth Services.
“Larkin Street Youth Services is thrilled by HUD’s announcement that San Francisco will receive $2.9 million to fight youth homelessness,” said Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director of Larkin Street Youth Services. “This is a monumental moment in time, and this funding is a game-changer. San Francisco has a tremendous opportunity to build a system-wide response to youth homelessness that will be a model for the nation. Youth homelessness is finally on the map, and Larkin Street is honored to be part is this work.”
Options that have been explored by the city in the past include establishing a Navigation Center specifically for youth, providing more transitional housing for unaccompanied young people aged 18 to 24, and supporting outreach programs that cater specifically to the diversity of youth living on San Francisco’s streets.