Finding an apartment in the Bay Area is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Now, imagine facing that process without credit history, a down payment or help moving from friends and family.

Given that’s the situation of many young people who’ve experienced homelessness, we launched Pathways, a new program that provides rental subsidies, furniture, moving and leasing help as well as life skills to young people at Larkin Street.

Since we’re focused on ending youth homelessness rather than interrupting it, this kind of transitional housing is an important new offering in our continuum of services.

For many young people, their first step towards leaving street life is visiting one of our drop-in centers or shelters. There, they work with our case managers to develop a plan to find stable housing, often leading to one of our supportive housing programs with on-site counselors, education and employment programs.

Pathways helps them take a next step in finding an apartment of their own, but with support from Larkin Street in navigating the signing of a lease, and in the form of a monthly rental subsidy.

An innovative aspect of the program is that our young people gradually take over full responsibility for their rent, working with our case managers to increase their income and manage a budget as they taper off the rental subsidy. Meanwhile, our staff communicates with potential landlords about how the program works, making landlords more likely to rent to a first-time tenant. Youth sign the lease themselves, building good rental and credit history as they pay their bills in a timely fashion.

Currently, 27 young people are accessing Pathways rental subsidies and life skills training while living in an apartment of their own in San Francisco or the East Bay. We’re so proud of these young people for renting and maintaining their first apartments and wish them continued well-being.