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Resources for highly vulnerable unhoused people

Some of the most vulnerable populations of unhoused people are those with mental illness, those who identify as women, youth, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ+,  POC and disabled people.

According to Rolling Stone, there are now more than 350,000 transgender people under the age of 25 in the United States. Most are in New York, Texas, Florida and California — and an estimated 20 percent do not have secure housing, which some service providers say might not capture the true numbers.

Disabled people are disproportionately recorded as being unhoused. According to a 2011 study published by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, “nearly 16 percent of the non-institutionalized U.S. population is disabled, yet people with disabilities constitute over 40 percent of people who are homeless in America.”

A May 2018 study published by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council cited a 2012 study that found suicide rates to be 10 times higher for a homeless cohort, and that “more than half of people experiencing homelessness have had thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide.” According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, research found that LGBTQ+ unhoused youth are twice as likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

“When compared to non-homeless populations, individuals experiencing homelessness face a multitude of complex health and social issues that are often integrated with past, present and daily trauma that impact these individuals’ prioritization and decision-making efforts,” the study reported.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, mental illness and substance abuse often co-occur with unhoused veterans and further complicate situations.

“Many veterans who remain homeless or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder,” the website states. “Mental illness and substance use disorders have been identified as strong risk factors for veteran homelessness.”

Last issue, The Campanil published an article about resources for unhoused people and ways to get involved or assist unhoused people. This article is a supplement, which you can read on our website. Several resources for communities that are at a higher risk of being unhoused are highlighted along with more places around the Bay Area to donate money or time.

Here are some places that offer services for those in these vulnerable communities:

The Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center is Berkeley’s first daytime program for women and children experiencing homelessness, opening a place to go when shelters are closed during the day.

Based in San Francisco, A Woman’s Place serves both cis and trans women who have mental disabilities, have experienced sexual or domestic violence, struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, and have HIV+/AIDS-related issues by providing long term treatment options and emergency shelter.

Dolores Street Community Services works within the San Francisco community to provide many levels of support for unhoused people, legal services and immigrant advocacy, organizing around workers rights and marginalized groups of people. The first LGBTQ+ shelter for adults, Jazzie’s Place, is located in the Dolores Street Community Services building and their placement system allows for self-identification with sections for male, female, and gender non-conforming identified individuals.

The Asian Women’s Shelter offers comprehensive assistance through emergency and transitional case management, a 24-hour multilingual crisis line, shelter program, a Multilingual Access Model that makes services accessible in over 40 languages and access to health, legal and economic services.

API Legal Outreach is also a resource that provides legal aid from immigrant rights to tenant’s rights to anti-human trafficking. Legal Services for Children addresses safe homes, education, deportation, and more. Ruby’s Place is focused solely on assisting those who have survived domestic violence or sex trafficking.

For over 30 years, Instituto Familiar de la Raza (IFR) has served the Latinx community in San Francisco. According to their website, “IFR has established a leadership role in community violence prevention, school-based mental health consultations, family programming, culturally-based integrated HIV services and indigenous/Maya wellness programs.”

The Trans Lifeline is a national organization by and for the trans community dedicated to emotional and financial assistance and is the first hotline with trans operators.

Serving LGBTQ+ youth in the Tenderloin since 1967, the San Francisco Hospitality House has six different programs in different places: the Tenderloin Self-Help Center, Shelter Program, Sixth Street Self-Help Center, Community Arts Program, Community Building Program, and the Employment Program. The Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, or LYRIC, is another center for LGBTQ+ youth.

The California Youth Crisis Line is available 24/7 for youth (12-24) and families, as an emergency response system.

Serving the poor, disabled, ill and marginalized, the Homeless Action Center offers free legal services, CalFresh, Cash Assistance Programs for Immigrants and more.

Volunteers of America provides “assistance that ranges from paying a first month’s rent to offering permanent supportive housing so that people with disabilities can become stable and productive members of their communities.”

Operation Dignity is designed for veterans. With three locations in Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley, Operation Dignity works to give support services, transitional housing and permanent housing.

Serving LGBTQ+ and POC communities, San Francisco Community Health Center works to provide high quality health care. Their Trans-Thrive Drop-In Space is open four days a week offers trans and gender non-conforming people a space to seek assistance for anything from reacclimating to society to previously being in the prison system to people living with or at risk for HIV. Another clinic-type organization is the Lifelong TRUST health Clinic.

Hopefully these suggestions and options give an idea of what resources are out there and available for many vulnerable members of the population in California.