Our executive director, Sherilyn Adams, shared why it’s important for San Francisco to invest in young people to prevent chronic homelessness. Here is the full piece published on the San Francisco Chronicle:

No resident, worker or visitor in San Francisco is unfamiliar with our pervasive and systemic homelessness crisis. Homelessness has consistently ranked as the public’s No. 1 priority. I see firsthand the long-term effects homelessness can have on the trajectory of a young person’s life.

Investing in youth is vital to ending homelessness for all. According to the May 2017 point-in-time count, 20 percent of San Francisco’s homeless population is under the age of 25. Yet just 6 cents of every $1 spent on homelessness programming is directed toward young people.

Once on the streets, young people face significant obstacles to leading stable, self-sufficient lives, and the effects of this disconnect grow with time. Each year spent unhoused furthers the disconnect from mainstream employment and education systems, making it harder for young people to re-engage with pathways meant to help them make a positive transition to adulthood. About 50 percent of all people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco first experienced homelessness before the age of 25.

On Tuesday members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will cast their final vote on two pieces of legislation that would empower our city to address our homelessness crisis with proven solutions. Introduced by Mayor London Breed, these bills have the potential to shave off up to nine months from the lengthy process of opening navigation centers, city facilities where homeless individuals can stay until the city can make other arrangements for them. Since the first navigation center was opened in 2015, the centers have brought more than 2,200 highly vulnerable people off the streets of San Francisco, 46 percent of whom have exited to stable housing.

The first bill declares a “shelter crisis” in San Francisco, freeing the city from obtaining building permits for homeless shelters. Such permits often take months to acquire and open up the city to public appeals, which can add further delay.

The second bill simplifies the city’s process for choosing providers to plug into Navigation Centers. The city currently must seek contracts in a time-intensive, one-off basis. Under the new law, departments would be permitted to draw from a pool of vetted organizations each time the need for services arises.

Adoption of these laws would have both short- and long-term effects.

First, if approved, the largest Navigation Center ever proposed may be up and running significantly faster than usual at Seawall Lot 330, providing refuge to 200 individuals who need quality care the most. Neighbors are fighting this potential new shelter vociferously, raising $40,000 to stop the proposal in its tracks.

You can help us end youth homelessness by donating.