Mary Howe, Homeless Youth Alliance’s executive director, said in an interview that that property owner Happening House Ventures has been supportive of her agency, including giving it a discount on the rent, but “I think they are ready for a change in the building.”
On the agency’s website, Howe said, “The building will be renovated, and reopened with apartments on the upper floors. The ground floor storefront, where HYA’s drop-in center and needle exchange currently operate, will be turned into a restaurant or retail space.” (The drop-in is at 1696 Haight Street. The needle exchange is at 584 Cole Street.)
Asked about the building’s ownership, a city planning department staffer provided the name David E. Smith and gave the address for Gaetani Real Estate Inc., in San Francisco. Paul Gaetani didn’t respond to an interview request.
Despite losing the space, Howe said Homeless Youth Alliance is committed to helping homeless youth in the Upper Haight past the December 25 closure. There are some things staff can provide on a mobile basis, including food, safer sex supplies, harm reduction trainings, and therapy. The group also plans to continue connecting participants with medical care, housing, and other resources.
The agency is looking for a van so it can provide services on a mobile basis and is hoping to find a new space in the Upper Haight.
“We don’t always want to be the homeless Homeless Youth Alliance,” said Howe.
Homeless Youth Alliance works with young people aged 13-29 who live on the street in the neighborhood, which draws youth from around the world and sees from 45 to 150 youth each day. Based on a biannual survey of participants, Howe said about 47 percent identify as LGBTQ or a similar category. Unfortunately, the organization is another victim of the rising rents here in San Francisco. I am sure we will see additional organizations affected as cost of living blows through the roof here.
Anyone interested in donating a van or contributing to purchasing one can contact Howe at email@example.com.