Assisted Care/Aftercare: Housing and Services for HIV positive youth
Youth living on San Francisco’s streets and homeless youth everywhere are extremely susceptible to HIV infection. Those who are HIV-positive also require specialized care so they can rebuild their hopes for the future. To meet the unique needs of these young people, Larkin Street Youth Services offers comprehensive housing and medical care, in addition to our agency-wide HIV prevention outreach and education services.
Assisted Care Program
For HIV-positive youth who need extra attention and medical treatment, Larkin Street operates the Assisted Care Program. The Assisted Care facility was the first residential facility for HIV-positive youth in the nation. The program houses up to twelve HIV-positive youth at a time, providing those who require special assistance in their everyday lives with safe, stable housing supplemented with a spectrum of health care and social services. The treatment philosophy of the Assisted Care Program at Larkin Street promotes strong peer support, structured activities, on-site supervision, counseling and medical services in a relaxed setting.
On the first floor of the Assisted Care Program’s three-story facility, an HIV Specialty Clinic provides primary health care. 24-hour care and medical support is available for all Assisted Care clients. In addition to medical care, Assisted Care Program residents have access to trained case managers and counselors who assess for mental health or substance abuse treatment issues and link them with psychiatric care as needed.
Residents take an active role in the Assisted Care Program. Weekly meetings build community and give those living in the program a voice in how their home is run. Assisted Care residents visit farmer’s markets to learn about nutrition, express themselves through art activities, and learn ways to take care of their whole being. Ongoing life skills workshops help them build practical and interpersonal skills to support independent living. They share a large communal area, kitchen, dining facilities, and a living and recreation room.
The services offered at the Assisted Care Program allow youth to reclaim the control they often feel was lost when they became HIV-positive. More importantly, the community they form at Larkin Street gives them back the hope that faltered when they lived on the streets.
Assisted Care houses approximately 40 – 45 HIV-positive youth annually.
For HIV-positive youth who lack stable housing but possess the health and life skills to live independently in the community, Larkin Street offers the Aftercare Program. Aftercare complements medical services provided at the Clinic with rental subsidies for housing in the community. Aftercare participants also access case management and the full array of Larkin Street’s other support services, including education and employment. The Aftercare Program promotes self-sufficiency and self-esteem by enabling young people to maintain privacy and independence, while ensuring a consistent link to Larkin Street’s HIV services.
Each year, Aftercare provides rental subsidies to house 40 – 50 HIV-positive youth in the community.