Oct 31, 2019 · 3 min read

In Our Community: StarVista’s Daybreak Offers Safe Spaces for Homeless Youth

October 2016 | The StarVista Daybreak space was designed to build community and belonging among its residents. Photography by Daniel Gaines Photography. Courtesy of StarVista.

Daybreak takes care to create a space that feels like home. The program’s service providers build connections and community to foster a sense of belonging and support.

Elaina* was newly homeless and caring for her young siblings when she discovered Daybreak, a transitional housing program for homeless youth. Daybreak staff could see right away that Elaina was resourceful and resilient. They worked with her to address her mental health needs, find a safe and comfortable apartment, and build the life skills she needed to succeed on her own. 

Today, Elaina is an active member of the San Mateo County community and works as a youth ally. She stays connected to Daybreak and utilizes its aftercare services when she needs extra support. Elaina is building the life she wants, and is helping others find their own. 

Daybreak is operated by StarVista, a non-profit organization that offers counseling, crisis prevention, and outreach programs to individuals and families across San Mateo County, which has experienced a 21 percent increase in residents experiencing homelessness in the last two years. 

StarVista’s comprehensive resources and support help youth like Elaina who are impacted by homelessness. For example, in addition to safe and stable transitional housing, DayBreak participants receive medical and mental health care and learn critical life skills, like how to cook, manage their money, and find and maintain jobs. 

Daybreak’s model is working. Every year, Daybreak helps more than 60 local young people break the cycle of homelessness. Daybreak takes care to create a space that feels like home. The program’s service providers build connections and community to foster a sense of belonging and support. For many, Daybreak might be the first place they experience compassion and kinship. 

With more than 30 years in operation and 30+ programs like Daybreak, StarVista carries out its mission to deliver high-impact services to the community. Each year, the organization helps more than 44,000 people in San Mateo County navigate challenges that can lead to homelessness.  And the StarVista team continues to enhance and expand its services. 

Current priorities include growing the team’s mental health support staff and building a new therapeutic space at Daybreak to provide a more private and welcoming environment for clients. StarVista is also training staff to meet the specific needs of homeless youth, including trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, harm reduction, cultural humility and diversity, youth substance abuse, working with LGBTQ+ youth, addressing power and privilege, youth leadership, and more.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports StarVista as part of its commitment to homeless youth, children, and families in San Mateo County. CZI’s support helps the organization enhance and expand services like Daybreak so more youth have access to quality services.  

Learn more about StarVista at https://star-vista.org/

*Name changed to protect confidentiality

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