Mayor Todd Gloria on Feb. 25 announced new partnerships between the City of San Diego and three nonprofit organizations to bolster programs helping young people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The new shelter and outreach opportunities will specifically target transition-age youth – people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are experiencing homelessness or transitioning from state custody or foster care. That group makes up 10 percent of San Diego’s unsheltered homeless population, according to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless’ 2020 Point-in-Time Count.
“Living on the streets at any age can have traumatizing effects on a person’s health and mental well-being, so it’s important that we do everything we can to intervene and help these young people before they experience some of the long-term issues associated with homelessness,” Gloria said. “Targeting our investments toward programs and services focused on prevention will help us end chronic homelessness.”
Using Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) funds granted by the State of California and previously allocated by the City to serve this population, the San Diego Housing Commission has executed contracts to provide the following services in the city:
Urban Street Angels – Addition of 19 beds for transition-age youth at the Urban Street Angels Center in Downtown and support of a hotel voucher program for certain cases ($305,400)
San Diego Youth Services – Addition of four beds to the existing eight-bed Youth Emergency Shelter program for minors; expansion of the five “SafeTAY Network” beds to now operate five nights per week versus the previously available two-night stay option; and support of a hotel voucher program for certain cases ($172,740)
San Diego LGBT Community Center – Funding for a homeless outreach worker to prioritize LGBTQ transition-age youth but will also serve all transition-age youth ($65,000)
The investment in these programs supports two of the targets laid out in the City’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness – preventing and ending youth homelessness and address the need to add crisis-response options such as new shelter beds and other programs. Gloria sits on the Leadership Council that oversees the implementation of the plan.
What others are saying:
Stephen Whitburn, President pro tem, City Council, District 3:
“My district, which includes Downtown, has long been the epicenter of San Diego’s homelessness crisis. I’d like to thank Mayor Gloria for taking decisive action to help connect young people to the housing and services they need. Solving the homelessness crisis in our city and region is my number one priority – and youth homelessness is often an unseen symptom of that crisis. These programs and resources will provide the necessary tools to ensure that our youth can get the support they need to become and remain housed. I’m pleased to support this initiative and have great faith in our nonprofit partners’ abilities to provide these lifesaving resources.”
Richard C. Gentry, president and CEO, San Diego Housing Commission:
“These new shelter and outreach resources are essential steps forward in collaborative efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness in the City of San Diego. The San Diego Housing Commission is pleased to be working with Mayor Gloria, the City Council and these service providers to help transition age youth on their path to permanent or longer-term housing.”
Eric Lovett, executive director, Urban Street Angels:
“Fifty percent of the homeless community in San Diego first experienced homelessness as transition-age youth, so we believe the best chance to alter their trajectory, disrupt the pathway to chronic homelessness and help them avoid a lifetime on the street is now -- ‘while the cement is still wet.’ This collaboration with San Diego Youth Services and The San Diego LGBT Community Center will help us end youth homelessness in San Diego.”
Cara Dessert, CEO, San Diego LGBT Community Center:
“The Center thanks Mayor Gloria and the City of San Diego, the San Diego Housing Commission, Urban Street Angels, and San Diego Youth Services for this strategic partnership to bolster programs to serve youth who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. This new initiative is a part of The Center’s housing continuum that provides emergency, short-term, and long-term housing services for LGBTQ individuals, couples, families, and transitional age youth. We are excited to embark on this new partnership to do more to get unhoused youth into housing, and create a San Diego where no young person is without a safe place to call home.”
Walter Philips, CEO, San Diego Youth Services:
“For decades, there were no dedicated shelter beds for transition-age youth experiencing homelessness. We are thrilled to be partnering with the City of San Diego, Urban Street Angels and the San Diego LGBT Community Center to expand the capacity of shelter beds for this very vulnerable population. These shelters are the critical front door in empowering these youth toward a path of housing and economic security. Getting them off the streets into developmentally appropriate safe shelter and support services is the first step in their journey to self-sufficiency and success.”
About the organizations:
Urban Street Angels is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to help tackle youth homelessness in the San Diego area. Urban Street Angels works exclusively with Transition Age Youth. Most program clients have experienced years of abuse, trauma and harsh conditions while living on the streets. To be successful, the model requires carefully rebuilding the bonds of trust, and providing hope along the way. In the programs, homeless transition-age youth receive housing and the support, training and confidence necessary to leave the streets behind for good.
The San Diego LGBT Community Center(The Center) enhances and sustains the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, nonbinary, immigrant, and HIV communities to the betterment of the entire San Diego region. The Center is a leader in solving San Diego’s housing crisis, especially as it affects the LGBTQ community.
San Diego Youth Services provides safe places to live and long-term solutions through shelter, foster homes, community centers and housing. Through prevention, early intervention and treatment, they also help youth before they need higher levels of care or become homeless.