Providing youth housing, opportunity, and hope to reach their full potential
Raised in public housing, Sherilyn Adams was impacted by family violence, mental illness, and substance abuse from an early age. Her experiences drove her to be a catalyst for change and ending homelessness. Now at Larkin Street Youth Services, Adams is committed to ensuring that lawmakers understand the unique needs of homeless youth in San Francisco and the state — and that their voices are heard by policymakers.
“Young people who are experiencing homelessness often are couch surfing, or riding buses, or staying up all night at a cafe to avoid being seen as homeless,” Adams said. “Because they’re not seen, we don’t think it’s a problem.”
But on any given night in San Francisco, more than 1,300 unaccompanied young people (ages 12 to 24) experience homelessness. They face an uphill battle; statistics show they have an increased chance of experiencing physical and/or sexual abuse and die at higher rates than their peers who are housed.
Larkin Street offers comprehensive support systems including drop-in services, housing, education and employment supports, primary and behavioral health services, and youth leadership development to help young people stay off the streets for good. Larkin Street’s Youth Advisory Board, a leadership and advocacy program, ensures young people’s perspectives are heard agency-wide and encourages them to work on city and state-wide initiatives impacting homeless youth.
Our job is not to interrupt homelessness. Our job is to ensure that no young person is homeless again.
Larkin Street also recognizes that homelessness is an complex issue that disproportionately affects LGBTQ-identified youth, youth of color, and those who have been involved with foster care or the justice system. Larkin Street applies an equity lens to its services, offering a variety of housing options and support services that are tailored to meet the needs of the youth they serve.
Larkin Street has served more than 75,000 youth over its 35-year history, providing two-thirds of all available housing for homeless youth in San Francisco. More than 80 percent of young people who complete their programs exit to stable housing, and nearly 90 percent were employed or enrolled in higher education.
“Our job is not to interrupt homelessness. Our job is to ensure that no young person is homeless again.”
Video by Talking Eyes Media
The written profile and video reflect the work of the leader(s) the year they received a Leadership Award. Please contact the leader(s) for current information.