"We no longer can offer kids the option of a hot shower, an indoor bathroom, a well-stocked kitchen, a safe refuge to relax and regroup. But we've been doing our best to continue providing youth with basic needs, case management, mental health care, harm reduction education, and medical care."
Here's what a typical day looks like for the HYA today:
- In the morning, the team does 2-3 hours of outreach. This entails walking through the Haight and the parks and handing out supplies.
- In the afternoon, counselors meet with clients individually, either in the street or the park, or in a cafe, depending on where that person feels most comfortable.
- Most weeknights, the HYA van parks outside their former spot at Haight & Cole, and sets up a two-hour needle exchange.
HYA has also been getting a lot of help from the community. A neighbor has allowed use of her basement for storage. The clinic on Cole Street has let HYA use their meeting space for counselor visits. The library on Page Street hosts weekly game nights in their community room.
"A huge part of what we do is intensive, one-on-one case management: helping youth navigate the complicated, bureaucratic process of applying for and accessing housing, making sure they meet eligibility requirements (including getting on General Assistance and other benefits programs), and holding weekly meetings once they're housed to help them adjust to the transition and make sure they're fulfilling all requirements to retain their housing situation."
Unfortunately, HYA's quest for a new space has proved challenging. They've already been through three brokers who've given up after realizing how difficult it is to find an affordable space in this neighborhood that is willing to lease to a human services agency. Ideally, they'd love to be able to offer showers again, but at this point, they'd settle for a smaller administrative office space to call home. We'll keep you posted.