Everyday a team of four from our Outreach program walks around the City to spot young people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness who need help. Our team typically looks for young people who frequently hang out on the streets with a backpack and who may not have clean clothes. Some young people experiencing homelessness might be better than others at hiding their circumstances, but our Outreach team is up for the challenge. Rose Sargent, our Program Manager of Outreach and Haight Street Referral Center, who has also experienced homelessness in their youth, initiates engagement with young people by trying to get to know them and letting them know how to access services if they ever need help.
While some young people readily accept help, others are reluctant. Many young people end up on the streets due to family conflict or adults in their lives failing to take care of them, which often results in young people not being trusting of adults. Fortunately, Rose’s team is prepared for cases like this. “It’s about being available and repetitive. They need to know that you’re not just going to leave,” Rose says. “It’s also about being transparent and letting them know right away what we can and can’t do for them.”
Our Outreach team works tirelessly to build trust with young people who are hesitant to access services by having regular conversations with them, as well as providing mobile case management, and hygiene kits. Those who are ready to accept help are referred to our programs as well as to other resources throughout San Francisco. “When approaching young people on the streets, it’s important for us to get to know the person first rather than focusing on their problems. We talk to them just like we talk to anyone else who we might come across,” Rose said. The pandemic didn’t slow down Outreach and the team spread word around San Francisco about our free vaccination site. Additionally, (and while taking precautions) they continued to do outreach, kept our drop-in center open, and even helped place young people in the Shelter-in-Place (SIP) hotel we set up with the city.
Many thanks to our dedicated team of outreach experts!