Youth Clinic operates on Monday nights from 6PM-9PM
The Telegraph Avenue and Shattuck Avenue corridors in Berkeley are meccas for homeless and street-identified youth from around the country. Disenchanted| neglected and runaway youth congregate in Berkeley because of its long history of social activism and for being an inclusive and welcoming place. Despite this image, until just a few years ago there were almost no actual resources available within the city of Berkeley to serve the specific needs of hard to reach streetidentified youth| due in part to a reluctance amongst this population to deal with the bureaucratic intake and formal processing methods of more traditional institutions. The city of Berkeley estimates that youth between the ages of thirteen and 23 account for 100 to 200 of the homeless people in Berkeley on any given day. Youth that live on the street are extremely vulnerable to suicide| HIV/AIDS| sexually transmitted infections| traumatic injuries| and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis| hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Existing health care and social service providers in Berkeley report that teenage pregnancy| asthma| infestations| and wound care are other important health issues among Berkeleys street youth. Decreasing the incidence of these conditions would not only help the street youth| but benefit the health of the entire community as well. Berkeley has several nonprofit organizations that provide health care services to homeless and uninsured individuals. Each of these organizations has found that youth are reluctant to access their services for a variety of reasons. These include the presence of adults| a lack of trusting relationships with providers| an adult rather than youth oriented culture| and inconvenience in terms of time and location. In July 1997| the Berkeley Chaplaincy to the Homeless began a drop in center for homeless youth that now serves 20 to 50 youth per day. Their services include food| recreation| counseling| advocacy and health care. This program has been extremely successful at establishing trust with the youth and providing needed services. In 1998| the Chaplaincy approached the Suitcase Clinic| a UC Berkeley sponsored| student and volunteer run organization with a request to assist in the establishment of a homeless youth focused health services clinic and drop in center similar to the existing Suitcase Clinic sites. The Suitcase Clinic and several other organizations worked to recruit a multidisciplinary team of volunteers and paid staff to provide health and social services| advocacy| and counseling together under one roof for a weekly evening drop in center for homeless and street identified youth. Over $10000 in funds were secured for the Youth Clinic project and partners have made commitments to participate in this effort. The Suitcase Clinic was proud to open the doors to its Youth Clinic in September of 2000| making it the most recent of our drop in centers. The Youth Clinic strives to provide culturally appropriate and youth accessible services to homeless and street-identified youth which simultaneously increases their opportunities for positive social and physical well being.