YMCA Programs and Services Serve the Homeless Youth Population

San Diego, California (November 3, 2021) – November is National Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month, an annual awareness and prevention campaign for runaway and homeless youth issues. YMCA of San Diego County is engaging in a month-long campaign to raise awareness around this serious social issue. The Y’s Rooted in CommunityRHY News campaign is intended to create space for our communities to understand more about what is possible when we invest in young people experiencing homelessness, and when they feel seen, heard, and supported.


As part of the Y’s Rooted in Community campaign, two members of the YMCA team traveled from Oceanside to San Ysidro on a SOLIDARITY JOURNEY to raise awareness for youth homelessness in our community. The journey took place over three days (November 8-10) and included four media-friendly community events attended by various elected officials and leaders throughout the county.

Through this three-day effort, we were able to connect with community members and political figures throughout the county. This effort was captured on multiple news outlets and we were able to engage over 25 new donors, raising over $50k to support our programs!


Through the leadership of the Y, we worked with our collaborative partners to conduct four rallies across the county.


Community members and YMCA staff met for breakfast during an exciting kickoff event to send off the YMCA team on their first leg of the Solidarity Journey.

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Community members, social service providers and YMCA staff met in Ocean Beach to hear from community leaders and advocates about the challenges unsheltered youth face, specifically LGBTQ+ youth who are disproportionately impacted by homelessness. 

With the support of the community and partners, we were able to create over 100 "We Care" kits to distribute to runaway and homeless youth. 


The YMCA team, community leaders, social service providers and community members met in front of the San Diego County Administration Building to hear Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announce the County’s Proclamation to recognize November as Runaway and Homeless Youth Prevention Month.


Community members, social service providers and YMCA staff met for a discussion about how access to community infrastructure, including transportation, is critical for youth and families.


Representatives from each branch were trained on the CAAVE engagement model. Through the CAAVE training, the representatives were empowered to develop a response that can be used when encountering runaway and homeless youth and related social issues. Part of this response included a step-by-step procedure for accessing services through the Housing our Youth program. As of December 2, we have served five youth through these branch referrals.

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Homelessness is one of the biggest social issues facing the San Diego community. San Diego County’s population of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness is the 7th largest in the country. Often referred to as an “invisible” crisis, youth homelessness impacts one in ten young people (ages 18-24 years old) in a year, and 1 in 30 adolescents (ages 13-17 years old) experience homelessness without a caregiver. It’s also important to note that youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately impacted by homelessness.

YMCA of San Diego County is committed to bringing about meaningful and lasting change for youth and families experiencing homelessness. YMCA Youth & Family Services (YFS) has nearly a dozen programs that help youth facing housing instability. YFS has a team of dedicated staff throughout the county providing housing, essentials, safety, counseling, education and employment assistance, and more to young people between the ages of 12-24 every day. By ensuring everyone has a safe place to live, a reliable support system, encouragement to pursue their goals, and access to the resources they need to flourish, our staff, volunteers and donors continue to help bring about meaningful and lasting change for the youth and families of our community. Learn how.

Gifts of all sizes are welcome to help youth stabilize their basic needs and support efforts to develop the skills that will lead to sustained independence. Donate here.

Find more information about the Y’s Rooted in Community Campaign here.

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Justin Lipford: Justin serves as the Director of Community Engagement for YMCA Community Support Services in San Diego. He is passionate about connecting disconnected and vulnerable young adults to the resources necessary to flourish. 

David Baker: David serves as the Program Director for Housing Our Youth at the YMCA of San Diego County. Dedicated to making positive change in the world, he is passionate about direct service work and is gifted in connecting with people. David’s advocacy work focuses on matters of equity and access for young adults. 


For media interview requests or additional details, please contact Dan Cruz at [email protected].

About the YMCA of San Diego County

The YMCA of San Diego County is one of the largest Y associations in the nation, serving nearly 500,000 San Diego County residents and employing more than 5,500 people (pre-COVID). Through a variety of programs and services focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y unites men, women and children - regardless of age, income or background - to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through the development of the spirit, mind and body. Visit www.ymcasd.org to find your local YMCA or call (858) 292-YMCA (9622).