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What's new at The Center's Sunburst Youth Housing Project?

What's new at The Center's Sunburst Youth Housing Project?

If we are are fortunate, we know the feeling of home -  and how good it feels to have safety, security, and even a few upgrades to our living situation and the difference it makes. San Diego is experiencing a housing crisis and our LGBTQ community is significantly impacted. The Center is extremely proud of our work to help LGBTQ people who are experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness though our housing continuum.

Part of our housing continuum includes The Center's Sunburst Youth Housing Project (Sunburst) which opened in 2006 and was made possible by the leadership and vision of Rev. Tony Freeman, Dr. Heather Berberet, then San Diego City Councilmember Toni Atkins, Jennifer LeSar, The Center and its project collaborators — YMCA Youth and Family Services, San Diego Youth and Community Services, Metropolitan Community Church, Walden Family Services and the Chadwick Center at Children’s Hospital. Statistics show that 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ and the majority cite family rejection as the reason they are unhoused. Despite the strides our LGBTQ community has made toward equality and acceptance, homelessness for LGBTQ youth is still pervasive and heartbreaking. In order to serve this critical population, Sunburst continues to be a cutting-edge program to provide safe and supportive housing for San Diego’s homeless youth between the ages of 18-24, including LGBTQ and youth living with HIV. A 23-unit facility located in downtown San Diego, Sunburst is close to City College, public transportation, community health facilities, and other essential resources.

Youth who live there don't just have a home, they are connected to critical support services such as case management, connection to health care, on-site mental health services, benefits enrollment, HIV testing, life skills training, educational and employment support. The Sunburst facility also houses The Center's LGBTQ Safe S.T.A.Y. (Shelter for Transitional Age Youth), the first overnight emergency housing program in San Diego county for LGBTQ youth ages 18-24. Safe S.T.A.Y. does so much more than provide emergency beds to youth. LGBTQ youth that come to Safe S.T.A.Y. really are safe. They receive a warm welcome and a warm meal; they are able to take a shower and wash their clothes, many for the first time in a very long time; they can pick out new clothes and essentials; they have access to a case manager for mental health services, housing resources, community support, and more. And they receive all of this from affirming and competent staff.

 And now, in 2021, we are delighted to share that Sunburst has received much-needed renovations and improvements! After being awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) by the City of San Diego, we embarked on a 13-week improvement project. The building's old roof was replaced with a cool-flat roof system, and the exterior of the building was repaired with patching and a stucco paint coating which will protect against water access during storms. We also replaced the remaining 43 single-pane aluminum windows with doubled-pane vinyl high efficient clear glass that will further secure the structure against wind, water, noise, and pollution, while increasing energy efficiency of the building and units. Last, we replaced two double exterior Emergency Exit doors with fire-rated steel doors that allow safe exit routes for tenants. We thank the City of San Diego for the opportunity to improve our Youth Housing facility, and create an even better home for our youth. If you would like more information on the Sunburst Housing Project, The Center’s LGBTQ Safe S.T.A.Y. program, or any of our other housing continuum programs, please contact Victor Esquivel, Director of Housing & Youth Homeless Services, at vesquivel@thecentersd.org or 619.692.2077 x207. To make a donation to support The Center's Youth Housing programs, please contact Ian Johnson, Director of Development, at ijohnson@thecentersd.org or click here.