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Finding Support in Unexpected Places

San Francisco can be a wonderful place to live.

It is one of the most diverse, progressive, and economically powerful places in the United States, yet growing economic disparities have made living in the Bay Area, let alone San Francisco unrealistic for many.1 Housing prices are skyrocketing and childcare is the highest in the nation ranging from $16,000 - $39,000 per year.2  The city’s homeless population continues to rise and similar to homeless adults, 56% of homeless youth lived in the San Francisco before becoming homeless.3 

Throughout our community, a heartbreaking 5.4% of children in the San Francisco Unified School District are homeless.

For Carl*, a single father to four children, homelessness became a reality in 2008 when our nation faced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Carl had unstable housing and limited resources to provide for his children, but one thing he did have was the Y’s support.  

The Y recognizes that supporting individuals and families in our community who live at or below the poverty line is critical, and that school is often the only stable factor in a homeless child’s life.

“Homelessness causes severe trauma to youth, disrupting their relationships, putting their health and safety at risk, and hampering their development. Homeless children are more likely than other children to have physical and mental health problems, and experience hunger and malnutrition.” 4

Partnering with public schools, the Y is supporting communities affected by systemic poverty to provide safe, enriching and diverse childcare opportunities, either for free or at a subsidized rate.

During his childhood, Carl spent his summers at Y camp and attended swimming lessons, but he never knew the Y would provide services and opportunities that so many of us take for granted, such as having a warm meal, a safe place to go after school or the chance to join a sports team.

After enrolling his son at one of the Y’s Preschool, Carl learned he could find additional support through the Y’s Family Resource Center.

Carl credits the Y for providing the resources he needed to raise his four children and stay in San Francisco. Over the past 9 years, the Y has provided financial assistance for his children to participate in the Y’s summer camps, swim lessons, youth sports programming and year-round after school care.

  • Free diapers, groceries.
  • Free family and one-on-one counseling.
  • Free parenting and men's support groups.
  • Free turkeys and Christmas trees during the holidays.
  • Free dinners and family activities with other families at Family Night Out.

All of these supports, services and experiences are what make the Y the best kept secret.

And for Carl, he likes to think of the Y as part of his family.


We’ve found that many members and donors give to the Y because they believe in a future where all children have equal access to high-quality childcare. Please consider investing today.

As a contributor, you can help youth stay in school, avoid truancy, and graduate on time. You can help struggling individuals of all ages and backgrounds find social support and pathways toward health and wellness. An investment will help ensure the Y can continue to serve our most vulnerable individuals and families in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties. 

If you or a loved one is in need of support, please contact the Y's Family Resource Center at 415-406-1370. Below are some of the services provided by the Y's Family Resource Centers:

  • Weekly Food Pantry
  • Information and Referrals 
  • Basic Needs Assistance and Emergency Food and Funds for (verified) Struggling Families
  • Linkages to Public Assistance and Benefits
  • Certified Parenting Education Classes and Workshops
  • School Success Workshops
  • Support Groups: Anger Management, Fatherhood Support, Substance Abuse, Youth Support
  • Parent-Child Interactive Groups
  • Basic, Intensive and Clinical Case Management Services
  • Human Services Agency Referred Services: Enhances Visitation, Differential Response, and Child-Family Team Meetings
  • Community Events

*Name of participant has been changed for privacy.