It is no secret that stable housing is a key pillar in successful outcomes for youth. Census data from 2016 shows that nearly two-thirds (62.7%) of youth aged 20-24 still live with at least one parent, and almost 35% of youth aged 20-34 are living with at least one parent. The majority of Canadian parents provide ongoing housing support for their young-adult children, and these numbers are expected to continue to rise as the cost of living and inaccessibility of affordable housing increases. But what happens to youth whose parents can’t or won’t provide that support?
Threshold Housing Society provides housing support to youth whose parents are unable to. This is often due to issues including family conflict and involvement in the child protection system. There are four kinds of housing provided through Threshold:
- Congregate Supportive Living – youth aged 16-21 share a home that has 24/7 staff support;
- Congregate Semi-Independent Housing – studio suites for youth aged 16-24 exist within Threshold House, which also offers communal space for engagement in life skills, shared meals, building connection and community programs;
- Safe Housing for Youth (SHY) program – apartments throughout Greater Victoria house youth aged 16-24 who need minimal support but require affordable and stable housing while they create a plan for full independence;
- Supportive Recovery Program (SRP) – a harm reduction focused program for youth aged 15-21 who are wanting to develop skills for recovery from substance use. Although not explicitly housing as the primary focus is recovery, youth in SRP frequently require help in finding longer term housing once they are ready to return to community.
The Housing First for Youth model identifies that “youth homelessness demands coordination across systems.” Once youth have stable housing, they need supportive programs to enable them to maintain this housing and begin to create brighter futures for themselve. In keeping with the principles of Housing First for Youth, the Housing Pillar of Equitable Standards for Transitions to Adulthood for Youth in Care specifies:
Every young person should have a place they can call home, without strict
rules and conditions to abide by. Housing supports should not be tied to further
institutionalization of youth in care, as they have the right to live a normal life as
they transition to adulthood
A “normal life” for youth who haven’t experienced government care is to grow the skills and confidence for a safe transition to adulthood supported by family. To support ongoing housing stability and growth for youth without those supports, Threshold Housing Society also provides the Foundations Program, which allows youth to build practical skills, self-advocacy, and a community around them. Foundations is supported by Threshold’s in-house counsellor, Indigenous Wellness Advocate, art group, queer group, dinners club, and more. The range of programs available through Threshold Housing Society provides the necessary tools to support long-term independence and success for youth.