In 1995, YSFS began doing outreach to youth who were living on the street. Staff and volunteers took backpacks filled with bottled water, sandwiches, condoms and resource guides to places in Santa Fe where street youth tended to congregate. In one decade, the program has seen the number of contacts with homeless youth skyrocket from a couple hundred a year to more than 5,000 contacts last year with an estimated 500 homeless youth. Approximately half of the young people served are from Santa Fe or northern New Mexico, the other half come from other parts of the country.
Street Outreach provides anonymous, free services to homeless and at-risk youth up to age 22. Young people are able to access services through two complementary methods. The first is street outreach as described above. This enables staff to inform newcomers about services and to maintain positive relations with people who may be too old to receive services. Older homeless people often refer street youth to the program.
The Resource Center is the second method by which the program delivers services. Located in downtown Santa Fe at 402 South St. Francis Dr., the Resource Center is open five days per week. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, it is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Wednesdays, the location is open from 1pm to 5pm. Here, young people can take showers, do laundry, get food, clothing, hygiene, camping and other supplies. They are also able to make phone calls and use the internet at no cost to them. Youth can receive help with a number of needs, including taking their G.E.D. tests, obtaining various forms of ID, filling out job applications or securing housing. Anonymous and free medical support services are available at the Resource Center twice a week. If safe and appropriate, Street Outreach has been known to buy bus tickets for youth to return home.
Street outreach is staffed by a wonderful team of people who are all aware of the vital nature of the service in providing young people with a unique environment in which to feel safe and connected in.