By: Kristin Maldonado
Our YMCA Youth & Family Services branch believes in the potential of all people, and this drives our work with youth experiencing homelessness. We are proud to share that we have recently been awarded two federal grants to move youth on a continuum from housing instability to long-term safety.
About the funding
YMCA Youth & Family Services was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families – Family and Youth Services Bureau to support our Turning Point Transitional Living Program. This is a 3-year, $750,000 grant, commencing on September 30, 2019. Funding will provide up to 540 days of temporary shelter and services to youth experiencing homelessness so they may successfully transition to adulthood. Turning Point helps San Diego’s homeless youth, ages 16 to under 22, transition to independent living by improving their safety and stability, social and emotional well-being, education and employment prospects, and permanent connections with caring adults.
YMCA Youth & Family Services was also recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families – Family and Youth Services Bureau to support our Street Outreach Program. This is a 3-year, $450,000 grant, commencing on September 30, 2019. Funding will be used to provide prevention and intervention services that assist runaway, homeless, and street youth ages 12 to younger than 21 in leaving the streets, entering stable housing, making healthy choices, and building trusting relationships with safe adults.
About the Issue
According to the most recent Point-in-Time Count, there are nearly 1,000 homeless youth throughout San Diego County, two-thirds of whom are unsheltered. Youth homelessness is unique, because youth are still experiencing a secondary phase of psychological development and have not yet acquired necessary life skills. These factors, compounded by the high cost of living in San Diego, create barriers to stability that are difficult for young people to overcome alone. The Turning Point Transitional Living Program, operated by the YMCA for 20 years, offers these youth support services to increase permanent connections and economic stability and mobility through a trauma-informed framework to facilitate healing and help them transition to adulthood.
The Y's Response
Runaway, homeless, and street youth are at a critical point in time where homelessness is at its most preventable, and in comparison to a chronically homeless adult, homeless youth are at a tipping point where immediate access to safe shelter and services can be the difference between sliding into chronic homelessness and reliance on public systems or becoming a contributing member of society. Our Street Outreach Program increases the continuum of supportive services and housing/shelter assistance to vulnerable youth, and helps meet their immediate needs by providing them with food, water, and hygiene kits while also offering access to emergency shelter and safe, stable housing to help move them toward independence. In addition, a Clinical Outreach Worker offers mental health, life skills, and social-emotional needs assessments to ensure these youth receive services needed to become successful adults.