As we navigate these unprecedented times, I want to stop and acknowledge all of you – our supporters, board members, staff, and volunteers. I recognize the sweeping effects that COVID-19 has had on our daily lives, shared communities, and the world around us. Like everyone, I miss being close, in community, and look forward to a time soon when I can see you in person again.
While life has changed dramatically over the past month, at Larkin Street we are guided by two unwavering principles: young people need to be able to access services, and we need to keep them and our staff safe. Yet the impact of the pandemic on young people has already been severe:
- 42% have lost jobs or had their hours dramatically reduced.
- For those who have a safe place to shelter-in-place, the order is creating feelings of isolation, which can exacerbate mental health and substance use issues.
- For those without a safe place to shelter-in-place, service reductions citywide are limiting access to basic needs, including food and hygiene services.
We have responded by maintaining our existing shelter and housing programs without interruption, plus are getting dozens of youth off the streets each week and into hotel rooms. We are providing hundreds of extra weekly meals, as well as tens of thousands of dollars of distributed food gift cards. Behavioral health, educational, and employment programs have expanded remote services delivery options.
As we’ve pivoted, our extraordinary staff have been showing up for work before we had access to Professional Protective Equipment (PPE) and through public transit cuts. They have ensured all our many facilities are sanitized, mitigating transmission risks on top of supporting our youth. These are our unsung heroes, and I want to thank them.
The coming months will bring new challenges, but we know we can navigate them together. While this pandemic has changed the way we do things, your generosity reinforces our collective strength, ensuring the young people we serve don’t walk this journey alone.