Avenues to Independence (ATI): Housing for Transition Aged Youth
Turning eighteen does not make every young person magically ready to plunge into adulthood. Even a young adult who has had the benefit of a safe home and caring family needs additional guidance about forging a path to self-sufficiency. Imagine how much more support a kid who has had to just survive on the streets—must need.
Larkin Street Youth Services provides homeless youth ages 18-24 with stable longer term housing of up to 2 years through the Avenues to Independence (ATI) Program. ATI assists young adults as they step from adolescence to adulthood by providing them with a comprehensive set of services along with stable housing.
These homeless youth come to Larkin Street either after being marginally housed couch surfing among friends or acquaintances, living on the streets, staying at emergency shelters, or from foster care settings. The majority of ATI residents enter Larkin Street’s program with very few practical life skills, minimal job history or transferable skills, little to no emotional support, and are sometimes struggling with substance abuse and/or mental health issues.
The 15-bed Avenues to Independence program is designed to be the final step in each youth’s transition to independent living. This youth program both addresses a youth’s immediate needs for stable housing while preventing future episodes of homelessness. ATI strives to eliminate homelessness by engaging youth, teaching them life skills, and helping them build self-esteem and healthy, life-long habits to support their independence.
ATI attempts to model real world situations at all possible times in order to foster the independence and life skills necessary for success when youth leave the program. Residents of ATI live as any young adult would, paying rent, working or training for careers, and completing their educations through GED courses or college classes. Counselors model life skills such as budgeting and taking good care of themselves and their homes. By the end of their time at ATI, youth not only have housing and job prospects, but also community and self-determination. When they are ready to move forward into their new lives, their ATI rent payments are refunded to give them a head start on their promising new adult lives.
Each year, 25 – 35 young adults make ATI their home while transitioning to self-sufficiency. Typically, 100% of youth who complete the program each year transition to stable housing.