Diamond Youth Shelter: For homeless and runaway teens
All homelessness is sad. But it is especially shocking as well as heartbreaking to see younger kids and homeless teens, often only 12, 15 or 17, who should clearly be living in a home environment with their families – and are instead, living on the streets. These homeless children and teenage runaways come from family environments that have broken down or where their parents may be unwilling or unable to continue to support and guide them through their adolescent years. And every time you pass a younger kid who is living on the street, you can imagine the years of potential that is being lost.
The first thing anyone on the streets needs is a safe place to sleep and homeless children and teenage runaways need shelter among others of their own age, under the care of stable adults. Larkin Street Youth Services offers these most vulnerable and at-risk youth ages 12-17, safety and security off the streets through our Diamond Youth Shelter.
The Diamond Youth Shelter is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The shelter was rebuilt thanks to the success of an ambitious capital campaign in 2009; it is a state-of-the-art emergency shelter for younger homeless youth and teens. This youth shelter is considered temporary housing for Larkin Street youth not because these kids will be returning to the street, but because staff help them to either reunite with their families or find an appropriate longer-term housing solutions.
Kids often access Diamond late at night during a crisis situation. When a kid first comes to the Shelter, Larkin Street staff conduct an individual intake to determine that all of their immediate needs are identified and met. Counselors can then contact parents or guardians to assure them of the child’s safety and to determine whether reunification is a possibility. Diamond Youth Shelter then provides these at-risk youth with a bed, food, new clothes, showers, laundry services, lockers and crisis counseling. Staff members help to bring stability to the lives of Diamond kids by providing them with basic necessities and encouraging them to access other Larkin Street services at the Sutter Street Drop-In Center. Diamond Youth Shelter is more than just a warm bed for the youngest kids on the streets of our city. It is their launching pad for healthy and productive futures.
Each year, Diamond Youth Shelter provides shelter to approximately 100 homeless underage children and runaway teens.