Thanks to your support, we served over 2,025 young people this year. Please see below for the full text of the letter from our Executive Director, Sherilyn Adams, and Board Chair, Susan K. Alexander, with their update on the past year, and what’s ahead:
As the two of us reflect on the roller coaster ride of the past year, we are so grateful for you—our supporters, community, and staff— who have kept Larkin Street moving forward through one of the most difficult times we have ever witnessed.
Through it all, our fight to end youth homelessness has not stopped. In fact, because of you, Larkin Street was able to respond rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding our critical, life-saving services that young people need to come inside, get housed, and rebuild their lives.
The pandemic has further illuminated the profound gaps in access to social, economic, and health resources due to centuries of systemic discrimination. You don’t have to look any further than who is accessing services at Larkin Street to know that inequity and injustice is a daily experience for people of color and people who identify as LGBTQ+. Fully 80% of the youth we serve are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and nearly half of young people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco identify as LGBTQ+.
Despite the obstacles in their path, youth continued to strive towards their goals:
- Graduated from high school or college and maintained employment.
- Actively advocated for public policy changes, including speaking to state officials in Sacramento or traveling to Washington, D.C
- Completed our integrated programs and moved into stable housing.
Unfortunately for many others, COVID-19 has interrupted these paths, meaning more young people are forced to be outside or stay in dangerous situations to remain indoors, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19. We must prioritize young people as part of the pandemic response as well as provide substantial investments in supportive housing and workforce development programming to ensure young people have the tools needed to build a strong foundation.
We can end youth homelessness if we come together as a community to not just tackle these new obstacles, but continue to invest in the strategies that work. These strategies include access to emergency shelter and rapid housing, wrap-around healthcare, as well as education
and employment opportunities. Importantly, we must also work upstream to advocate for broad public policy changes and fight against systems of oppression—including racism, homophobia, and transphobia—as well as reach youth early to help prevent youth homelessness.
Our future as a nation depends on the actions we take today. Each of us has a role to play and if we work together, we can build a world we all want to live in, one that values every young person’s human potential. Thank you for your contributions to ending youth homelessness.
Suzi Alexander, Board President
Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director