Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerHomeless Youth Alliance executive director Mary Howe

Haight-Ashbury center serving homeless youths still set to close on Christmas

As it has on many Christmases, the Homeless Youth Alliance in the Haight-Ashbury today will serve more than 150 meals of turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, green beans and other foods. But come 7 p.m., its doors will shut for good after 12 years of helping youngsters in need.

Despite fundraising efforts and a petition that has gathered more than 5,000 signatures, the organization has been denied a stay extension from the landlord of 1696 Haight St. and has not come up with $3 million to purchase a new building in the neighborhood.

“The angel investor has not come along and saved us with the Christmas miracle, so we're hoping they're waiting until tomorrow [Wednesday],” the organization's executive director, Mary Howe, said Tuesday. “It can happen.”

The petition that was started by a supporter a little over a week did help bring awareness and put pressure on City Hall to “take a look at the situation in the Haight-Ashbury and acknowledge that these kids are not going to leave and that the services are needed,” Howe said. About 49 percent of youth recipients identify as LGBT.

Barring a Christmas miracle, the organization will pack its items into storage and continue to provide its services – psychiatric, medical and the needle exchange, among others – in the same neighborhood at Golden Gate Park. Plans for a mobile service are moving along, but not finalized.

“It's been a really emotional week,” Howe said. “It's been a lot of anger and a lot of sadness, and also a lot of gratitude.”

Bay Area NewsChristmasHaight-AshburyHomeless Youth Alliance

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