San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today with government, nonprofit, and private sector leaders announced the launch of the Trust Youth Initiative (TYI) in San Francisco, a public-private partnership between the City, Larkin Street Youth Services, Point Source Youth, UpTogether, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, with support from Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org, to provide financial assistance to individual ages 18 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness.
TYI is funded through a public-private partnership between the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) and Google.org. HSH is providing $2M in funding for the program, which is supplemented by $2.5M in grants from Google.org. Google.org’s support of TYI is part of its Bay Area housing commitment which includes grants and pro bono support to Bay Area nonprofits focused on homelessness.
The incorporation of the TYI initiative complements San Francisco’s larger effort to address homelessness among youth and help them stabilize as they complete their education and secure jobs. The City’s response includes a youth-centered navigation center, rental assistance, new permanent supportive housing, and a range of youth-focused services. It is estimated that over 1,000 youth experience homelessness on any given day in San Francisco, a 6% decrease from 2019.
“Every young person in our City deserves equitable access to stable housing, quality education, and economic opportunity,” said Mayor London Breed. “By investing in the Trust Youth Initiative, San Francisco is reinforcing its commitment to addressing homelessness for young people in our City.”
“As long time supporters of cash transfers, Google.org is excited to see this program launch here in San Francisco,” said Adrian Schurr, regional giving lead for Google.org. “Our hope is that the rigorous evaluation alongside this program will inform how this method of support might better help our community members experiencing homelessness.”
San Francisco joins New York City at the forefront of implementing unconditional Direct Cash Transfers (DCT) with supportive services for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) as a strategy to help them exit homelessness. The DCT program is an empowerment-based and equity-centered approach to addressing youth homelessness; its flexible approach aims to help young people find stable housing and provide them with the means to afford the types of housing they choose and the support to make investments in their own goals, education, and career development.
According to the 2022 Point in Time Count, 61% of youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) and 38% identified as LGBTQ+; the unconditional nature of DCT also has the potential to redress these systemic inequities by eliminating barriers to services and promoting economic autonomy amongst its participants.
“This San Francisco-based private-public study of direct cash transfers programs places a critical focus on addressing Transitional Age Youth homelessness,” said San Francisco Department of Homelessness Director, Shireen McSpadden. “A unique collaboration between the City, Larkin Street, Google.org, Point Source Youth, UpTogether, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago the program is designed to empower young people, increase their access to safe and stable housing, and develop data on what works.”
TYI, a national movement pioneered in New York City, was co-designed by young adults with lived experience of homelessness alongside teams from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and Point Source Youth after meticulous research and a collaborative design process. Globally, DCT programs are recognized as one of the most effective and utilized mechanisms to eradicate poverty.
"Point Source Youth is thrilled to partner with Larkin Street Youth Services and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, with support from Google.org, to launch Direct Cash Transfers for youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco,” said Larry Cohen, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Point Source Youth. “We continue to build on the incredible support and momentum for Direct Cash Transfers for Youth Experiencing homelessness, expanding on our work in New York City, Baltimore, and in three communities in the State of Oregon. We know that together we can end youth homelessness by placing power and resources directly in the hands of young people who are experts in their own lives.”
The life cycle of the TYI program will include a 24-month DCT pilot implementation period, followed by a 12-month research and evaluation period during which the outcomes and efficacy of the program will be analyzed. Larkin Street Youth Services, San Francisco’s leading service provider for youth experiencing homelessness, will operate this pilot by providing DCT program participants with case management, education and workforce development support, as well as linkages to other resources. UpTogether, a national nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty will manage the flexible cash payments; the organization will provide 45 TAY youth with $1,500 a month for a period of two years.
“Young people are the experts in their own experience, challenges, and strengths, and are incredibly adept at resolving their own homelessness when provided with resources and support they need,” said Larkin Street Youth Services’ Executive Director Sherilyn Adams. “This innovative model will not only benefit the youth in the program, but provide empirical evidence about solutions which can then be scaled to match the needs of youth in our community.”
"This fund shows the need to change how institutions approach housing instability and economic mobility. Investing in these young people directly gives them a cushion to pursue their goals and dreams,” said UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena.
The final phase of the TYI initiative will be a longitudinal study which focuses on evaluating the outcomes of the DCT program. Chapin Hall, an independent policy center at the University of Chicago, will lead the research and analysis, and develop a multi-pronged dissemination strategy of its key findings to government, business, and community stakeholders. Empirical data is critical to continuing to expand the model to other jurisdictions across the country.
“We need a greater understanding of young people’s pathways through homelessness if we wish to inform sustainable, systems-level change,” said Chapin Hall Senior Policy Analyst Sarah Berger Gonzalez. “Chapin Hall’s expert team is already analyzing qualitative and quantitative data from the New York City pilot program. We are working toward determining how direct cash transfers with youth-driven supportive services impact the lives of youth experiencing homelessness. Adding this program in San Francisco will allow us to have a more complete picture of how these kinds of initiatives can help young people thrive.”