Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project
During the COVID-19 epidemic, San Diego Youth Services’ Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) staff members continue to work at the San Diego Convention Center Homeless Shelter, moving youth out of the shelter and into more permanent housing. Since March, 17 youth have been moved out of the shelter and into Rapid Rehousing or Transitional Housing.
At any given time, youth make up 12 percent of the county’s unsheltered homeless population, which is higher than veterans at 10 percent and families at 3 percent, but with the COVID-19 epidemic this number is increasing. The pandemic has highlighted the severity of San Diego County’s homelessness problem, and the need for specific housing services for Transition Age Youth (18 to 24 years old).
“We help a lot of young people who otherwise would have no other option,” said Wil Lybarger, YHDP program manager, San Diego Youth Services. “Through our programs, we are able to move them into our safe and stable housing.”
Youth System Navigators utilize San Diego Youth Services’ philosophy of trauma-informed care to help young adults access the community resources they need to build the skills and resources necessary to be successful in life. They are connected to education, employment, and entrepreneurial support, in addition to mental health services to empower them to be self-sufficient. The ultimate goal of YHDP is to help end the cycle of youth homelessness.
“Just about every single one of the youth in our program has experienced trauma and need care,” said Lybarger. “No one deserves to live on the street, and I am grateful that we are able to make a difference in the lives of these young people. These interventions have the possibility to change their life trajectory completely.”
San Diego Youth Services’ Transitional Housing project allows young adults to move into an apartment at one of San Diego Youth Services’ housing complexes, while they build up the necessary skills and resources they need to eventually transition into their own leases.
Through San Diego Youth Services’ Rapid Rehousing project, young adults are connected to community landlords and supported in signing their own leases. YHDP provides financial support for rent and utilities while they find employment or get connected to education. Over time, they gradually become independent and self-sufficient by taking full responsibility for their rent and utilities.
“Our goal is to empower our youth to create the life they want so they can meet their highest potential and reach each and every goal they set for themselves,” said Lybarger.
To support this program, visit sdyouthservices.org/donate, or send a Target, Walmart, or Amazon gift card in any amount, to San Diego Youth Services, 3255 Wing Street, San Diego, CA 92110. Any donations provided will be used to purchase needed supplies to support these youth, including apartment furnishings, food and hygiene supplies.