Fighting for our youth: 43,000 opportunities for a better tomorrow

The San Diego region has experienced one of the worst collisions of public health epidemic and homelessness crisis in modern memory.  In response, as a result of substantial public pressure, we have reacted with a number of strategies that virtually all focus on symptoms of homelessness rather than the underlying root causes. Our StrongStarts4All plan aims to change that. Here’s how.Several portions of our plan focus on the early stages of support because we know that the biggest return on investment comes early.  But I serve on the Executive Committee of the Workforce Partnership, the regional body to help youth and others get connected to employment, and I know that over 43,000 teenagers and young adults are out of school and out of work.

Read more about this research here.  What we also know about these young people is that without our support many of them will become tomorrow’s homeless. Bringing down the cost of having a home or apartment is critical, but it is not enough.  Addressing root causes requires us to better support young people before they slip into homelessness in the first place.

Our StrongStarts4All plan helps this huge part of our region’s future in a few strategic ways:

  • Paid internships and apprenticeships while still in school – get the skills to join the world of work
  • Academic recovery, mental health access and support for the biggest challenges
  • Transportation subsidy to expand opportunities to get to work/training

Long term, there is no substitute for stronger early development and after school support from an early age. However, because we must not simply forget young adults whose lives are often marred by trauma, time in the foster care system or other challenging circumstances, the above strategies are focused on our talent pipeline at one of the last stages to really help them get on track.

This proposal is about a shift in our relationship and our investment as a region in our youth. We are leaving talent on the table and it is hurting San Diego’s social and economic foundation. These changes are about long-term improvements, not short term fixes, and will improve the health of the San Diego region for generations to come.