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Urban Street Angels offer San Diego's homeless youth a wing and a prayer

Through their many programs, USA offers homeless teens a wing and a prayer.
Photo credit:
Urban Street Angels -- Facebook

Keeping San Diego's homeless youth safe is the primary mission of the Urban Street Angels (USA). Every day they hope to “end youth homelessness by providing supportive housing and employment opportunities to cultivate personal responsibility."

The organization hopes to make troubled youth more independent and thwart harmful distractions, especially to those who suffer from mental health issues and co-occurring substance use disorders. 

Every Tuesday evening, USA provides emergency shelter for homeless youth at Missiongathering Christian Church in North Park and have partnered to set up two other shelters serving one night a week in El Cajon.

The overnight shelter offers a nourishing dinner and breakfast, a safe place to sleep, showers and laundry facilities. They give referrals to community resources, offer gently used clothing, and minor medical care. USA says just by donations alone they have helped over 2,000 homeless youth since 2016. 

USA also helps with transitional or bridge housing for transitional age youth (TAY;18 to 25) without a place to live.

"USA started its bridge housing program through members of the board of directors using their own residence to take in homeless youth and provide temporary shelter while assisting them in getting into therapy, school, employment and meeting their basic needs and grew the housing program to serve 11 homeless youth in two independent living facilities," says Michael Manley, chairman of USA. "Last year, USA increased its program to serve 21 homeless youth and in August of this year, USA expanded its capacity from 21 beds to 40 beds housing homeless TAY and moved the program to Father Joe’s Village’s former Touissant Academy located in downtown San Diego."

The Urban Street Angels have also established a social enterprise called 8 West, to provide youth with opportunities to develop job skills and a sense of personal responsibility. 

"Through USA’s nonprofit business, youth learn how to make a premium line of all natural, handcrafted bath, shower and spa products which are sold online and through local retailers, including Seaside Market in Cardiff by-the-Sea," explains Manley. "Youth enrolled in USA’s program are eligible to apply for paid apprenticeships at 8 West. USA has partnered with local business owners and organizations to hire youth after they have been trained at 8 West. Since its inception, more than 20 homeless youth have apprenticed at 8 West. Proceeds from the revenue generated through 8 West are used to help support USA programs."

In another program, TAY are matched with local business leaders who have overcome some obstacles themselves whether it be from abuse or other childhood trauma. These leaders offer young adults a chance to have positive role models in their lives.

"USA mentors serve as pro-social role models and play a vital role in teaching youth to believe in their ability to successfully overcome challenges. Mentors provide training in resume writing, interview skills, how to dress for interviews, social and problem-solving skills in the workplace, money management and budgeting and other related topics."

USA has recently designed and is implementing a holistic, TAY-centric approach to improve outcomes for homeless young men and women. The organization was awarded a County of San Diego contract for Recuperating Treatment Services (ReST) and Recuperating Housing which allowed them to expand from 21 to 40 beds.

The program incorporates technology to monitor whole health and wellness, to promote patient engagement, and improve outcomes for individuals with chronic health conditions.

USA is working with the County of San Diego, and researchers at UCSD to ensure that the youth have the greatest possibility of maintaining recovery and safe housing beyond the period of time they are enrolled in our program

For more information on USA, please visit www.urbanstreetangels.org. USA's online store offering 8 West bath, shower and spa products can be found at www.8west.org.