Parks: A “Home” for Homeless Youth


In San Francisco, an estimated 5,700 youth are homeless. With its mission to serve diverse audiences, the Crissy Field Center—an urban environmental education center—also provides programs for homeless children and families, through partnerships with organizations such as Hamilton Family Center, an organization that works to break the cycle of homelessness. The Crissy Field Center has offered a winter camp program for Hamilton and overnight trips at Rob Hill through the Camping at the Presidio program. May Tran, the Center’s Community Services Coordinator, says that Crissy Field programs provide youth with a physically and emotionally “safe space”—a necessity for youth with little home stability.

A hike in the Presidio through a Crissy Field Center program or a campfire opens up experiences that are important for all youth—but may not be accessible for youth dealing with homelessness. “We teach the children that this is their national park,” May says. “They do own this park.”

Other national parks across the country also provide services and resources to the homeless; Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. provided 600 pounds of venison to a local homeless shelter. And although the Crissy Field Center may not be able to offer food for young people challenged by homelessness, it does provide fun educational programs, job opportunities through middle school and high school internships, and invaluable emotional support from our staff.

The Center is committed to meeting the needs of San Francisco and Bay Area youth and families. Through partnerships with organizations like Hamilton Family Center, it strives to more fully realize the vision of Parks For All Forever.