Giving San Francisco’s Unhoused Youth and Young Adults a Chance to Thrive
25 years of unconditional support. 25 years of long-term relationships. 25 years of never kicking anyone out of their program.
“We’re one of the very few organizations that really has a stated mission of meeting people exactly where they are and not providing an obstacle course to get help,” says Executive Director Artavia Berry. “All you need to do is say hello and we can go have a meal together.”
What started as a grassroots movement with co-founders Rob Gitin and Taj Mustapha handing out supplies to unhoused people on the streets of San Francisco has grown into a holistic program that helps their young unhoused clients with whatever they need, no strings attached. That could be as simple as a sandwich given out on the street to more complex services, like mental health counseling or help with enrolling in school or regaining custody of a child.
“We ask, what kind of help do you want from us? What kind of support would you like? We approach each person with compassion, we respect their individual journey, and we’ve found that has been most empowering to the people we work with.” Berry says.
At The Crossroads (ATC) serves individuals that are often disconnected from support that could make their lives healthier and more stable. They might have been kicked out of other programs, or maybe they distrust service providers, often for good reason. But once they get involved with At The Crossroads, many of them stick around. Over 70% of the clients ATC works with have been with them for three-plus years.
Take one young man who came to ATC at 18. It took five years for him to find housing as he cycled in and out of the carceral system, but finally, at 23, he had a home to call his own. Soon after, he was able to enroll in school. This momentum and added stability gave him the foundation to find full-time employment. This is what success looks like at ATC.
“It’s not that when someone gets housed, they’re at the finish line,” says Program Director Demaree Miller. “The harder part is maintaining your housing and building through the hierarchy of needs until you get to self-actualization. Let’s figure out what we can do not just to help them succeed, but to thrive.”
Source: The Giving List