Home and Harvest: A Participatory Approach to Improving Food Security among Formerly Homeless Youth in Permanent Supportive Housing


Colette Auerswald, Emily Ozer


Berkeley Seed Grant, community based participatory research (CBPR), food insercurity, food security policy, homeless youth, photovoice, San Francisco, supprotive housing

Year Published:


Policy Summary

Berkeley Seed Grant 2015 winner: Food insecurity impacts an estimated 14% of U.S. households, with a disproportionate burden shouldered by those living at or below the federal poverty line, people of color, urban households, and households with children and youth. In San Francisco, as the cost of living rises and resources available for emergency food assistance decrease, food security is an area of increasingly urgent public and private concern, particularly for homeless and unstably housed minors and young adults (61% of whom reported food as their greatest need in the 2013 homeless count). This project expands upon an existing collaborative research partnership among the residents and staff at Community Housing Partnership’s first permanent supportive housing building for 18-to-24 year old transitional aged youth; the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement; the California Homeless Youth Project; San Francisco’s Transitional Age Youth initiative; and an interdisciplinary research team from UC Berkeley, to address an emergent theme of food insecurity among the building’s formerly homeless youth residents. Through a community-based participatory research project (PhotoVoice), we will engage a cohort of formerly homeless young adults in: 1) Assessing and documenting the barriers to obtaining adequate healthy foods faced by youth living in permanent supportive housing; 2) Informing programs and practice to improve food security for youth in permanent supportive housing; 3) Increasing public awareness and engaging community members, businesses, and policymakers in discussion about homeless and marginalized youth’s experiences of hunger; and 4) Informing potential private-public partnership and policy solutions to food insecurity among vulnerable youth populations.