What We Do

Our vision is not to interrupt homelessness for young people, but rather, to end it permanently.

To do this, we provide comprehensive services that meet young peoples’ needs, while encouraging them to access our services when and how they feel comfortable. This helps our young people take charge of their own lives, developing long-lasting self-sufficiency while building trust in themselves and our staff.

Our work is internationally recognized as setting a high standard for innovative and effective care for young people experiencing homelessness. Read on for details on our model.

Outreach and Engagement

Many of the young people we encounter have been hurt or abandoned by the important adults in their lives. Our engagement programs are the crucial first step in building trust between young people and our program staff, who are a supportive and visible presence on the streets, and in our shelters and drop-in centers.

Our street outreach team offers food, clothing and hygiene supplies, as well as information connecting youth directly to our programs, including our medical clinic, HIV prevention and testing, emergency shelters, housing programs and counseling.

Drop-in centers, located in the Tenderloin and Haight neighborhoods, provide a safe refuge from the streets, and for some young people, are the only indoor spaces they can access. We make it fun and welcoming with events and activities in addition to hot meals, showers, laundry, computer access, and behavioral health services.

These entry-level services give young people the support they need to formulate a plan to leave street life behind, permanently.

Housing

Larkin Street is San Francisco’s largest non-profit provider of housing for young people experiencing homelessness, providing more than 80,000 bed-nights of emergency and supportive housing each year. In addition to our two short-term shelters, Larkin Street offers more than 250 housing beds for up to two years or more.

More than just safe places to sleep, our housing programs offer comprehensive supports to young people, including individual/group counseling, life skills trainings, and more. Some provide 24-hour onsite staffing, while other programs give young people the chance to live more independently in their communities.

Several housing programs are tailored to meet the unique needs of over-represented groups among those experiencing homelessness, including young people who identify as LGBTQ+, those who have experience with the foster care system, those at risk of or living with HIV, and those dealing with mental health issues.

All housing programs provide a stable and supportive platform, enabling young people to take meaningful steps toward independence.

Education and Employment

Young people who are experiencing homelessness spend time and energy every day wondering where they are going to sleep that night. This reality, combined with the stress and trauma of life on the streets, means that they are more likely than their peers to stop attending school, which is directly linked to lower lifelong earning potential. We offer several levels of programming tailored to address this educational achievement gap, from GED tutoring to college success programs and everything in between.

To prepare young people for careers in key Bay Area sectors like technology and healthcare, our employment programs also fall on a spectrum, from introductory day-labor opportunities and basic job readiness classes to intensive, semester-long Learning Centers.

Young people have access to trained staff in group and individual settings to explore career pathways, pursue internship opportunities, untangle financial aid requirements, and get job placement support.

The combined aim of our education and employment services is to prepare young people for meaningful, sustainable, living-wage employment that makes lasting self-sufficiency possible.

Health and Wellness

Medical and behavioral health supports are critical components in Larkin Street’s continuum of services. Our medical clinic provides free primary care and HIV-prevention, including confidential testing.

Our trained case managers use evidence-based techniques like motivational interviewing to help young people develop a plan for their future that includes the coping strategies needed to tackle life’s daily stresses. Larkin Street also incorporates mindfulness training alongside classes on nutrition, cooking and yoga.

We take a holistic approach to caring for our young people, providing them with the tools to care for themselves.

Advocacy

 

We also work to reshape external environments affecting homelessness through coordinated policy and advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels.

Most recently, Larkin Street played a key role in the development of San Francisco’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Additionally, in partnership with the California Coalition for Youth, Larkin Street successfully advocated for the first expansion of Homeless Youth and Exploitation funding since the legislation was passed in the ’80s. On the national level, our Executive Director, Sherilyn Adams, joined the steering committee for A Way Home America, a White House initiative launched to build the movement to end homelessness among young people.

Read our latest advocacy and research briefs