Host Homes Could Get San Francisco’s 1,200 Homeless Youth Off the Streets

by Vins

A Host Home initiative could be the answer to San Francisco’s 1,200 homeless youth, according to Sarah Asch from San Francisco Public Press. Asch states that implementing a Host Home initiative could potentially help the federal government’s goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. Ali Schlageter, the youth-program manager at the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, agrees that Host Homes could be the right solution to the youth homeless problem in San Francisco, stating that “this idea of asking community members to open up their homes is something we want to explore.”

Asch argues that more conventional housing initiatives such as supportive housing are proving too costly to build and operate, whereas host homes could offer an effective, small-scale alternative. Interestingly this is not the first Host Home platform to prove effective. In Minneapolis, the ‘GLBT Host Home Program’, has successfully helped many homeless youths find host homes. The article points out that 49 percent of homeless youth in San Francisco identify as LGBTQ, so the Minneapolis GLBT Host Home Program seems to be a potentially successful model.

San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is considering funding a pilot Host Home initiative with some of the $2.9 million grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with the hope to end homelessness among youth ages 18-24. This money would allow Host Home initiatives to reach a larger demographic. As Asch states, the biggest obstacle keeping existing programs from expanding is funding. At the moment Edgewood, one such program can only pay $500 a month per host family while San Francisco room and board costs are much more than that.

HUD is currently reviewing the city’s plan, which it must approve before the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing can solicit proposals for funding. Asch states that service providers who support the host home model are hopeful that San Francisco will implement it and Mollie Brown, director of the programs and community development at Huckleberry Youth Program (a program serving San Francisco and Marin counties), advocates for Host Home programs because the lower cost could greatly expand the city’s capacity to help homeless youth.

This topic has received minimal news coverage. The Seattle Times published an editorial on Host Homes in December 2015. Additional coverage has tended to focus on specific programs communities across the country.

Source: Sarah Asch, “Host Homes Could Get Young Adults Off Streets,” San Francisco Public Press, October26, 2017,  http://sfpublicpress.org/news/homelessness/solutions/2017-10/host-homes-could-get-young-adults-off-streets.

Student Researcher: Frank Morris (San Francisco State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)

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