We know that young people have their own unique and distinct needs. That’s CMHA Kelowna works directly with A Way Home Kelowna in order to identify youth who are homeless or at the risk of homelessness and provide them with access to housing, and the necessary and age-appropriate supports they need to stay housed. One of the ways we do this is through the Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) program in Kelowna.
HF4Y Core Principles
HF4Y is a youth-specific adaption of the traditional Housing First model and is based on five core principles (see ‘Youth Homelessness Streams of Service‘ for more detailed info):
- A right to housing with no preconditions
- Youth choice, youth voice and self-determination
- Positive youth development and wellness orientation
- Individualized, client-driven supports with no time limits
- Social inclusion and community integration
CMHA Kelowna has adapted these programs for our community. Youth who are referred into both programs are triaged and prioritized by a youth community table. Youth in the program are assigned a case manager who works with the young person to develop a case plan and to meet their goals.
Youth Choice and Self-Determination
Housing First for Youth isn’t just about housing – it’s about giving young people the skills to thrive. This means it goes beyond, to focus on building confidence, relationships, health and resilience. It means that we ensure young people have access to a range of supports that enable them to nurture and maintain social, recreational, educational and occupational activities.
We know that youth are experts on what they need and should be in control of their own lives. That’s why we include their ideas, opinions and knowledge into the work. From creating case management plans all the way to program development – young people are included throughout!
When we talked to young people with lived experience of homelessness what some of their challenges were, they described the social exclusion and isolation they felt.
That’s why Housing First for Youth emphasizes strengthening family and natural supports, friendships and meaningful relationships – in whatever that means to the young person!