H I S T O R Y
Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY) has deep roots in San Francisco’s Mission District. In the five years leading up to the founding of HOMEY in 1999, approximately 40 youth were murdered in the Mission District due to street violence. At that time, an agency called the Real Alternatives Program (RAP) a 20 year-old gang prevention program in the Mission District had embarked on the Community Peace Initiative (CPI) a community-wide effort to address and find solutions to violence. This was a large undertaking as the initiative included the public health and government leaders, the business community, community based organizations, radio stations, youth, and others. CPI initially succeeded in organizing two Peace Walk-A-Thon’s in 1998 and 1999 and brought a heightened awareness to the issue of violence in San Francisco. Before RAP could sustain the initiative the agency closed its doors.
During that period of 1998-99 numerous youth leaders in the Mission District were active in the work of RAP. Although the agency was closing youth and activist wanted to continue the violence prevention work that was occurring. The youth leaders were eager to address a variety of youth issues. However, the main focus at that time was the criminalization of youth that was being addressed at the statewide level through a ballot initiative called the Juvenile Crime Initiative or California Proposition 21. This ballot initiative increased a variety of criminal penalties for crimes committed by youth and incorporated many youth offenders into the adult criminal justice system.
California Proposition 21 that would eventually pass into law became a rallying point for many youth in the Mission District and the Bay Area including those that would start HOMEY. From this dynamic history several youth and young adults established Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (H.O.M.E.Y.). Many of HOMEY’s founders were former street affiliated youth, staff from RAP, and community activists. They began HOMEY with the vision of continuing the legacy and credo of RAP that is “youth for self-determination.”
When our fledgling organization was forming it found a Berkeley-based fiscal sponsor International Child Resource Institute (ICRI) to it and HOMEY stayed under ICRI’s stewardship until 2011. On October 1, 2011, HOMEY moved to a new fiscal sponsor, Arriba Juntos until 2013. In 2014, HOMEY continued to grow and was almost independent organization having only one of its services under a fiscal sponsor through CARECEN San Francisco. Today, HOMEY is its own 501(c)3 organization and with several youth programs and a T-Shirt screen print business called Native Graphix.
Since HOMEY’s inception community members and youth inspired by the vision of HOMEY to find solutions to issues of violence in San Francisco have volunteered their time to make HOMEY what it is today. Many of the staff at HOMEY have faced similar challenges as the youth in its programs. The youth that established HOMEY are now adults and several continue to do the work in various capacities in city government, at other non-profits, and at a statewide level. Those visionary youth also became part of HOMEY’s success as they were able to realize their vision of continuing the legacy of RAP through their own enduring work.
Today, HOMEY is having tremendous success providing direct services to youth in San Francisco. We continue to utilize a community-based approach leveraging our knowledgeable staff, college volunteers, and elders to motivate youth to become the next generation of leaders in the community and speak out on important social justice issues that affect us all.
In 2015-16, HOMEY worked with 74 youth - 86% of them are Latino/as. The youth in the program continue to live primarily in San Francisco most residing in the Mission District (32%), Bayview/Hunters Point (26%), and Excelsior (10%) Districts, and the remaining youth live in various other sectors of the city and in San Mateo County or different parts of the East Bay. HOMEY’s enduring vision lives on and we continue to build on the work of our predecessors to have a strong and vibrant youth community in the Bay Area.