Mary Howe, Executive Director of Homeless Youth Alliance, Horizons’ Grantee
I ran away from home and lived on the streets of the Tenderloin when I was 15 years old. I struggled with homelessness, trauma, and the criminal justice system, like many young folks who are on the streets of San Francisco today. After several years, I became an Outreach Counselor for youth experiencing homelessness, and learned that we can save lives by meeting people where they are.
Today, I am the Executive Director of Homeless Youth Alliance, which helps young people experiencing homelessness– including many LGBTQ youth – build healthier lives. Nearly half of youth who are homeless in San Francisco identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Homeless Youth Alliance meets youth on the streets. We offer them mentorship and access to help and services in a judgment-free space. We help thousands of young people improve their lives because of funders like Horizons Foundation – one of our earliest and most loyal supporters.
Recently, we expanded our work into the Castro district, home to many LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. With crucial funding we received from Horizons Foundation, we’re able to support at least one hundred additional youth annually. Now we can serve more youth like Hillary – a young lesbian who found herself homeless when a caregiver kicked her out of the house. We helped her secure housing, obtain general assistance, and even earn an internship with the Mayor’s Office of H.O.P.E., where she advocates for real solutions for youth struggling with homelessness.
The Bay Area is a refuge for a growing number of young people looking for acceptance and a place to call home. These challenges are intensified by the current crisis of displacement and homelessness throughout the Bay Area—even our own organization is currently looking for a permanent home.
While many foundations might overlook our small, grassroots organization, Horizons recognizes the unique and genuine impact we make by providing vital LGBTQ-sensitive services to youth experiencing homelessness. We are just one of many organizations to receive funding from Horizons Foundation, and we would not be able to do this important work without their support.
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We are so humbled by Mary’s story and by the life-saving work that Homeless Youth Alliance does every day. Stories just like hers fuel our commitment at Horizons Foundation to continue to grow and expand our investments in the LGBTQ community. Every grant that we make to organizations, like Homeless Youth Alliance, is critical to the continued health, success, and survival of LGBTQ Bay Area residents.
By making a gift to Horizons, you will join us in building a brighter today, and an even more vibrant tomorrow for the LGBTQ communities of the Bay Area.