Our executive director, Sherilyn Adams, shared her opinion on why a Navigation Center in San Francisco would greatly benefit young people experiencing homelessness. In this op-ed piece published by San Francisco Chronicle, she also addressed concerns that people have regarding Navigation Centers. Read the full piece below: 

Every great city can be measured by the degree to which it uplifts and safeguards the young people who call it home. Each night, more than 1,100 young people experiencing homelessness find themselves on the streets of San Francisco without somewhere safe, stable and secure to sleep. Tomorrow must be different — our future depends on it.

Since 1984, Larkin Street Youth Services has provided shelter to more than 75,000 young people, offering housing, education, employment and wellness supports to facilitate a successful exit out of homelessness. We have made it our mission to eradicate youth homelessness in San Francisco, and we are proud of the progress that has been made thus far. According to the last Point in Time Count, youth homelessness in San Francisco decreased by 10%, proving that with continued investment comes meaningful results.

However, the work must not stop there. Homelessness is a solvable problem, and we must build on this positive momentum by coming together as a city to advocate for proven solutions to provide pathways off our streets and into stable housing.

Late last year, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin and Mayor London Breed announced plans to open a much-anticipated Navigation Center at 888 Post St. specifically for individuals under the age of 25. It would be the city’s first such center dedicated to that vulnerable population.

The site, adjacent to the Tenderloin, will usher in 75 new shelter beds for homeless youth along with connections to services, counseling and workforce training through a partnership with Goodwill on the bottom floor of the building. We’re thankful to Mayor Breed and Supervisor Peskin for their leadership on this issue and putting youth first.

When the Post Street Navigation Center was first proposed, we heard familiar concerns from neighbors on the impact on crime it would have in their neighborhood. However, studies have shown that Navigation Centers have no effect on the crime rates of their surrounding communities. There were also concerns surrounding where Navigation Center clients would “go” once they were housed there. 888 Post St. will be a part of a larger network of programming meant to provide a pathway to housing opportunities. This Navigation Center will get young people off the street, who can then access rapid rehousing programs through other large-scale initiatives such as the Rising Up Campaign.

A temporary shelter for Transitional Aged Youth is not the silver bullet that will end youth homelessness for good. But it is an incredibly important step in the right direction. We need more capacity to serve clients looking for a safe and secure place to rest their heads, to kick-start their pathway to a new life, and to transition into adulthood. Almost 50% of all people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco first experienced homelessness before the age of 25. We must end youth homelessness if we want to end homelessness for all.