Haight-Ashbury center serving homeless youths still set to close on Christmas 

click to enlarge Mary Howe | John Bozeman
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Homeless Youth Alliance executive director Mary Howe, a formerly homeless youth, and youth alliance participant John Bozeman, holding a sign he uses to panhandle, in the drop-in room of the center's Haight Street location.

As it has on many Christmases, the Homeless Youth Alliance in the Haight-Ashbury today will serve more than 150 meals of turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, green beans and other foods. But come 7 p.m., its doors will shut for good after 12 years of helping youngsters in need.

Despite fundraising efforts and a petition that has gathered more than 5,000 signatures, the organization has been denied a stay extension from the landlord of 1696 Haight St. and has not come up with $3 million to purchase a new building in the neighborhood.

"The angel investor has not come along and saved us with the Christmas miracle, so we're hoping they're waiting until tomorrow [Wednesday]," the organization's executive director, Mary Howe, said Tuesday. "It can happen."

The petition that was started by a supporter a little over a week did help bring awareness and put pressure on City Hall to "take a look at the situation in the Haight-Ashbury and acknowledge that these kids are not going to leave and that the services are needed," Howe said. About 49 percent of youth recipients identify as LGBT.

Barring a Christmas miracle, the organization will pack its items into storage and continue to provide its services - psychiatric, medical and the needle exchange, among others - in the same neighborhood at Golden Gate Park. Plans for a mobile service are moving along, but not finalized.

"It's been a really emotional week," Howe said. "It's been a lot of anger and a lot of sadness, and also a lot of gratitude."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Bio:
Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016

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