As we head into cooler fall and winter months, my thoughts inevitably turn to the more than 1,300 young people sleeping on the street in San Francisco every night.
This number is both a source of frustration and hope. The Point in Time count conducted by the City of San Francisco, along with numerous service providers including Larkin Street, found this year that the number of young people on the street had decreased by 13%, from over 1,900, in 2013.
These numbers all represent individuals that are currently experiencing homelessness. It is unacceptable that any young person sleeps on the street, today or in the future. We know that intervention at this critical time in young people’s lives can prevent them from becoming one of the over 5,500 chronically homeless adults in San Francisco. We also know just what that intervention needs to look like in order to succeed: comprehensive services from shelter and basic needs all the way to wellness supports and employment and education training.
Three out of four young people who complete our programs exit street life. We know what works, and with the resources and support of our community, we can realize a future in which no young person sleeps on the street again.
Our local, state and federal governments demonstrated their commitment to ending the larger homelessness crisis with over $15 million in new funding for housing and services for homeless youth in this budget cycle. Our sincere thanks go out to Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and Assemblymember Phil Ting, among many other state and local partners for supporting these vital efforts.
While we continue to advocate for increased resources for young people experiencing homelessness, we rely on San Francisco’s business community, foundations, and individuals like you! Your advocacy, volunteer work and financial gifts bridge the gap between public funding for emergency housing that solves homelessness in the short term and the essential wellness, employment and job placement services that solve homelessness permanently.
I’m also pleased to share that in September, Dr. Colette Auerswald from UC-Berkeley, Dr. Marguerita Lightfoot from UCSF, and I were among 15 teams nationally selected as Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a program led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to solve persistent health challenges. Our team will look at how youth experiencing homelessness encounter violence and what interventions could change that.
Back at Larkin Street, we’re gearing up for our annual Harvest and Winter Festivals. You’re invited to join us by volunteering to help with food donations or service for the sit-down dinner and our holiday gift drive. Please help make the holidays happy for the more than 450 young people we see at our locations every winter.
We wish all of you the very best holiday season this year, and thank you for your support of Larkin Street, now and in the future.