Urban Street Angels
What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?
Urban Street Angels (USA) serves the homeless youth community (18-25 years old) in San Diego by providing supportive housing for youth who are ready to leave the streets behind. Most of our youth deal with mental illness and drug issues, our main areas of focus.
We have an emergency shelter program, transitional housing programs, and long-term housing programs where we can provide supportive housing for up to two years. In addition to a safe place to stay, we also provide clothes, supplies, job skills training, education and employment linkages, healthcare linkages, along with therapy and drug rehab linkages.
We want youth to believe in themselves, and with our support, they eventually not only have their own place to stay and their own job, but an opportunity to find their own purpose! Belief in yourself is the most important accomplishment you can realize as an individual and sometimes it takes others believing in you until you “get it'.
What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?
People often think that the homeless are lazy, and that they just need to get up and go to work or do something.
Most homeless youth have been abused, neglected, or left behind by those who they thought loved them, and many have experienced major trauma along the way. As a society, we need to be more understanding of why these youth are on the streets and how we can stop the cycle of homelessness. Working with youth this age is the best time to do just that.
When was the organization founded?
We were founded in 2012. Our founder was rejected as a young person for being gay in a highly religious part of the country. Because of that rejection and losing everything, he never wanted anyone else to go through what he experienced. He opened up his home to serve youth for a few years until the demand grew beyond the capacity of his home.
The hallmark of his message was providing youth with the mentality of HOPE that you can do or be anything you want and that "we" (Urban Street Angels) support you! Urban Street Angels focuses on all youth needing a safe place and those in need who want a "hand up."
You are part of the "intervention" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?
The core mission of Urban Street Angels is engaging people who are homeless at an early stage so we can disrupt the pathway to chronic homelessness and change the trajectory of their lives. By working with Transitional Age Youth, we have the chance to “catch” them before they become chronically homeless. We have street outreach, emergency shelter, and short- and long-term housing for youth who are homeless and ready for their “best chance”.
Our programs are focused on individuals in need of mental illness treatment, as well as substance abuse treatment, so we can tackle the issues they are facing now and teach the importance of sustainability. We believe in the “upstream” model of tackling these issues before they become a long-term statistic.
Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?
Urban Street Angels has a mentorship program where we pair each youth with a productive, established mentor in our community. This program involves a commitment of at least four (4) hours a month. Many of our youth have never had a person they can talk to or relate to so having a person like this in their life makes a huge difference. We also have periodic volunteer opportunities, as well as work days at our facility to provide meals for our youth. Contact Mentor@urbanstreetangels.org for more information.
We are always looking for qualified individuals to expand the diversity and strengths of our Board of Directors, especially those with time and expertise in areas of need. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What else would you want people to know about your organization?
Urban Street Angels works with the county behavioral health system and Sharp Mesa Vista, among other community partners, to support high-risk youth dealing with mental illness. In certain programs, we add holistic treatment to the regimen with the goal of reducing the unnecessary use of emergency services in the county, and easing the burden on taxpayers. We also work with the justice system, taking in youth who are ready and willing to change. We have seen a lot of success with these justice-involved programs and our relationships with the probation departments reflect that success.
Has Urban Street Angels been featured in recent media?
San Diego City TV: Video: Programs Announced to Serve Youth Experiencing Homelessness
San Diego Union Tribune: Emergency shelter opens for youths facing homelessness
San Diego Union Tribune: How we’re helping dozens of homeless youth during the coronavirus pandemic