Victoria’s first youth-led social enterprise model
Will house youth experiencing homelessness
VICTORIA, BC – (January 27, 2020) – Victoria’s first youth-led social enterprise housing model will initially welcome 12 youth experiencing homelessness and/or aging out of care into innovative supportive housing this month. The goal is to engage, employ, and house 25 to 30 youth experiencing chronic or marginal homelessness who are interested in co-designing an innovative housing model.
Fifteen staff with special competencies are now onsite and ready to meet the youth regardless of their personal circumstance, as the intake process begins for this project. To protect youth’s privacy the address of the housing site will not be released.
“This initiative allows for unparalleled community involvement in research, and places youth squarely in the driver’s seat by taking them seriously as agents of change within their own lives,” said Jarvis Neglia, Project Manager of Research for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. “It’s vital to invest in empowering young people experiencing homelessness to change their own lives through collective learning and action.”
For the past three years, a collaboration of local community agencies, government, and funders have participated in the Youth Task Force to discuss factors relating to youth homelessness in Greater Victoria. Local data and the review of national and international models of best practice have informed the development of this housing initiative.
The Province, through BC Housing, in partnership with the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, will provide operating funding for this project.
“It is critical that young people experiencing homelessness have a safe place to live with supports,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “I commend all the partners for developing this innovative model, which will have a significant impact on the lives of youth in Victoria for years to come.”
The Youth Leadership Research Team (YLRT), a team of five youth with recent lived experience of homelessness, were hired to inform each stage of the development process of the housing project. Moving forward the youth on-site will co-design the program within the housing site.
“Insecure housing early in life is something we would refer to as an “adverse childhood experience”, or ACE. Without adequate supports and care, ACEs can set people up for difficulties later on in terms of both physical and mental health,” said Dr. Colette Smart, registered psychologist, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Victoria, and trauma researcher. “Stable housing is at the core of everything – without that, it is very hard to work on other important life goals such as building friendships, seeking meaningful work, and developing one’s identity.”
Youth will have the opportunity to access mentors and coaches to support their journey out of homelessness through arts, business, community, and university partnerships. Training for residents will be provided in research ethics, methods, and design, and the youth on-site will have the opportunity to work with research experts to develop innovative approaches to address trauma and other impacts of homelessness.
“When choices are always prescribed, youth feel unprepared to enter adulthood. This project supports youth by prioritizing autonomy through self-assessment and discovery,” said Emily Jackson, Prevention of Youth Homelessness Coordinator for GVCEH and former youth in care.
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About the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness
The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness is a backbone organization of local housing, health and social service providers; non-profit organizations; all levels of government; businesses; educational institutions; and the faith community in the Capital Region of British Columbia. The Coalition’s mission is to create a region without homelessness. They achieve this by ensuring appropriate solutions are in place to serve individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in the region, and by ensuring all people facing homelessness in the Capital Region have access to safe, affordable, appropriate, long-term housing.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness