Over the last few years, host homes have gained traction as a means of housing youth experiencing homelessness in rural areas. Host homes entail a formalized, mutual agreement between a community member and a service provider. The community member provides shelter, food and sometimes transportation for youth, while the provider delivers case management services. Community members typically receive a small stipend and undergo training and background checks.
One of the great strengths of host homes is their flexibility, since communities can adapt the model to fit localized needs and budget limitations:
The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) initiated the Rural Host Home Demonstration Project to serve youth who live in rural areas not served by shelter facilities. In this program, youth under age 18 can receive:
- Shelter for up to 21 days;
- Assistance staying connected to their school; and
- An aftercare plan with continuing support upon exiting the program.
Youth Advocates of Sitka, Inc., in Sitka, Alaska, implemented a resource home program through their Transitional Living Program (TLP). Youth up to age 21 can receive:
- Housing for up to 18 months;
- Active resource parent involvement through age 18;
- Mentoring to develop independent living skills through age 21;
- Counseling and case management; and
- Access to housing vouchers and affordable housing.
Resource homes receive:
- A stipend of $30 per day per child; and
- Extensive training opportunities, including open invitations to staff training sessions.
The benefits of host homes are significant:
- They are more economical
- No physical facility needed
- Cost savings of paying ‘resource/host parents’ rather than extensive support staff
- They overcome a local lack of affordable rentals for permanent living spaces;
- They allow youth to build stronger relationships and interpersonal skills, experience stability in their home life, learn positive life skills that will help them transition to independence, and help motivate them to attain this quality of life in adulthood.
How can your community use host homes for youth experiencing homelessness?