Larkin Street estimates that 5,700 youth find themselves without a safe place to call home each year in San Francisco.

For many kids living on the street, Larkin Street Youth Services’ Outreach Program is their first contact with caring adults who can help them change their lives. Larkin Street’s Outreach Program brings critical services to the youth where they are, on the streets of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods: the Tenderloin, the Mission District, Polk Gulch, Civic Center, Haight Ashbury, Castro, SOMA. This is where these vulnerable at- risk youth face the problems of street life, but it is also where the solution starts. Larkin Street’s outreach services provide crisis intervention services, health education, HIV prevention education as well as giving youth emotional support, personal hygiene items, and referrals to help. Larkin Street’s trained outreach workers provide at a critical time the help kids on the street need to begin their journey toward a brighter future.

So many of these young people have been abandoned and betrayed by the important adults in their lives. It is understandably difficult for them to build trust. Therefore, outreach workers are always respectful and consistent, providing a visible presence on the streets every night. We make it as easy as possible for kids to take advantage of the help that we offer by providing transportation to other Larkin Street sites — including emergency shelter, medical care, and drop-in services — in our outreach van. Educational materials are available in Spanish as well as English, to reach as many youth as possible.

Some of the young people our outreach workers encounter on the street are not yet ready to enter Larkin Street’s other programs, but they are not left behind. Our staff continue to follow-up with kids still living on the street, checking in on them, providing additional information as they are ready, and reminding them of appointments with service providers.

Our Outreach Team serves as an introduction to the many ways Larkin Street can help them reach their potential as productive adults. The trust we build through our Outreach Program encourages these young people to take the next step toward a new life off the streets.