There is a new emerging face of San Francisco’s homeless crisis and it’s a bad sign for future generations. More and more young adult are being squeezed out by high rents and the shifting labor market, forcing them to surf couches or live outdoors. Many of the resources to combat homelessness are focused on the chronically homeless, who use more emergency services and cost more money than younger people, which means that young homeless people are given less attention. San Francisco has now become a test case for helping young homeless people and the city secured a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in January to come up with a plan to eradicate youth homelessness. Jodi Schwartz, executive director of the Castro LGBTQ center Lyric, stated:
A lot of the push in District Eight doesn’t come from the young people who need housing. It comes from the constituents who say, ‘I’m tired of looking at these young people on the street — do something about it.’
Young adults are also less inclined than their older counterparts to use the city’s shelters, which present a problem for organizations that are trying to help the youth homeless. San Francisco has made some progress on young homeless people by increasing supportive housing stock for this group from 25 to 127 units, with an additional 70 units on the way. The city’s most recent homeless counts suggest that the number of young adults and unaccompanied children has actually gone down, from 1,902 in 2013 to 1,569 in 2015. Jeff Kositsky, director of San Francisco’s new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, believes that the best way to help young homeless people is to reunite them with family, or provide them with more rent subsidies so they can focus on getting back into the workforce. Youth homelessness is an issue that needs to be addressed because the future of the nation is at stake.