It’s been five years since the grand opening of the John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) Housing Complex, located at 800 Presidio Avenue. This modern high-rise with million dollar views is the heart of San Francisco and is part of the beautiful Booker T. Washington Community Service Center.
The JBAY Housing Complex has 50 units of permanent affordable housing, 24 of which are dedicated to youth transitioning from foster care. JBAY provided critical funding in the final stages of development and had the honor of having the property named after the organization.
JBAY staff members Amy Lemley, Simone Tureck Lee and Jeffrey Lee recently hosted a site visit at the housing complex and got a tour from Erica Waterford, Vice President of Education and Employment at First Place for Youth, the nonprofit that provides services to the youth who live at the property.
According to JBAY Executive Director Amy Lemley, the property has it all. “It has everything: quality rental units, access to transit, a grocery store next door, child care, a beautiful recreation center and supportive services where youth can receive help with employment, education and more.”
The property is a good example of what JBAY is working to replicate around the state for youth who have been in foster care or homeless.
In 2021, JBAY successfully advocated for 8% of the state’s $2.75 billion Homekey program to be used to build or rehabilitate housing for youth. Two rounds of Homekey funding have been issued resulting in 25 projects across California that will assist 535 youth households.
On March 30, 2023, California issued the application for the third round of Homekey, and increased the youth requirement to 10%.
JBAY Housing and Health Director Simone Tureck Lee was delighted to learn of the increased youth requirement. “The increase to 10% shows the strong commitment that Governor Newsom and his administration have to reducing youth homelessness. The development of these units will help sustain California’s recent 21% reduction in homelessness among unaccompnaied homeless youth.”
In addition to advocating for funding, JBAY has been working across California to help youth providers access Homekey funding. This has included providing one-on-one technical assistance and issuing planning grants to nine youth-serving organizations totalling $250,000. These planning grants will help youth providers project consultants to make sure their Homekey application gets across the finish line.
Building this housing will take time, but it’s worth the wait, according to Amy Lemley. “Visiting the JBAY Housing Complex was a great reminder of how important it is to keep advocating for more housing for youth who have been in foster care or experienced homelessness. Housing serves as the foundation for youth to pursue their educational goals and ultimately experience a life of economic stability and security.”