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In 1992, the City of San Francisco commissioned a study of homeless youth in the Haight Ashbury district. This study demonstrated that homeless young people have a high incidence of health and psychological problems as well as a lack of access to health and human services. In response, coordinated efforts to reach these youth began springing up in the Haight. Two such efforts were the San Francisco Needle Exchange (SFNE) and the Haight Ashbury Youth Outreach Team (HAYOT). It was with HAYOT that Mary Howe, a formerly homeless youth herself, began to work with homeless kids in the neighborhood.
In 2006, seven years after Mary first got involved, she merged the two organizations to form Homeless Youth Alliance: the city's only grassroots harm reduction coalition designed by and for the marginalized and underserved homeless youth of the Haight Ashbury district. Mary has shaped and built an agency that reaches 13,000 at-risk youth annually, providing a drop-in center, harm reduction education, and medical and mental health services. HYA is the only youth-focused agency in San Francisco whose staff mirrors the target population it serves: most of the agency’s 9 staff and 30 volunteers are formerly homeless, many of whom utilized HYA’s services while living on the street. HYA trains constituents to be peer educators, helping them transcend the conditioned passivity and powerlessness that lead to self-destructive choices. As a result, many former participants have gone on to pursue careers in human services and counseling.
PO Box 170427 San Francisco, CA 94117
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LINE
OUTREACH COUNSELORS LINE
STREET ADDRESS FOR DROP IN
1696 Haight Street
STREET ADDRESS FOR NEEDLE EXCHANGE
584 Cole Street