Helping Homeless Youth
by Assemblyman Phil Ting
I don’t have to tell you that homelessness is one of the largest, most pervasive and, unfortunately, most intractable problems facing San Francisco.
I wrote in this publication last November about this issue and how I helped secure $10 million in our state budget to open two permanent navigation centers in our city which, I’m proud to report, are set to open in the coming months. This will help even more people get off the street, into supportive housing and services and, eventually, into school or employment.
While we’re addressing this problem, we have to take particular steps to combat youth homelessness. Out of the nearly 7,500 homeless people on our city’s streets, more than 1,300 of them are youth, defined as those being under the age of 25. Many attend our San Francisco Unified School District schools but don’t have a home where they can do their homework in the evening.
California has the second highest rate of youth homelessness in the country, but fully two-thirds of the state’s counties lack the specialized services that homeless youth need. These are services that differ from those for adults.
In April, I announced $10 million in one-time grants under the Homeless Youth Emergency Services and Housing Program, funded in our state budget. The $2.5 million grants have been awarded to four organizations that serve homeless youth in our city, as well as Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Clara counties.
In San Francisco, the $2.5 million is going to Larkin Street Youth Services, which was founded in 1984 as a volunteer-run drop-in center. In the years since, Larkin Street has helped more than 75,000 young people get off the streets permanently. They provide both short- and longer-term housing so their clients can attend school or hold down a job, putting them on a path to self-sufficiency.
For those not yet ready to live in a shelter, drop-in centers provide refuge from the street as well as meals, showers, laundry facilities and behavioral health services.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Anubis Daugherty, a young man who is benefitting from Larkin Street’s services and has turned his life around. Daugherty is a San Fran- cisco native who was born homeless to a mother who suffers from cerebral palsy. Since she was unable to work, she and her two sons struggled to stay housed.
Daugherty eventually ran away from home and ended up sleeping on our streets for six years. After meeting outreach workers from Larkin Street, he joined the organization’s Pathways program in 2016 . With a stable roof over his head, he has since obtained his GED, enrolled in City College and joined Larkin Street’s Youth Advisory Board. He also interns for the nonprofit’s outreach team, encouraging other teens and young adults to get help as he did two years ago.
I want more success stories like this for the youth currently living on our city’s streets. Stabilizing them today means they have a shot at a better future.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.