On April 7, 2014, over 50 supportive housing providers, public agencies, advocacy and philanthropic organizations came together to hear the year-one results of CSH’s Stable Homes, Brighter Futures initiative, a three-year evaluation of the supportive housing model for transition age youth (TAY).
Molly Rysman, CSH Los Angeles Director, and Maria Joyce, SVP at Bank of America Community Development Banking, provided welcoming remarks that focused on supportive housing as an intervention to prevent vulnerable youth and young adults from becoming chronically homeless adults. Supportive housing has been shown to be an effective intervention for chronically homeless adults, and we know that many chronically homeless adults were homeless as transition age youth.
Symposium attendees participated in activities aimed to experience the data and lessons learned so far through the evaluation. Harder+Company Community Research presented tenant- as well as organizational- and system-level data. The average age of youth at entry was 22, indicating that the majority of youth in supportive housing are past the age of eligibility in the child welfare system and the resources available. The data shows that 40% of youth reported being current or former foster youth, so the majority of youth did not even have access to resources and services targeting child welfare-involved youth. Over 50% of youth were literally homeless prior to entering supportive housing, 34% were in transitional housing programs prior to supportive housing, and 11% were couch-surfing. A little over 70% of youth reported mental health challenges. Interestingly, data collected so far shows about 50% of youth in the supportive housing units score 0-1 on the TAY Triage Tool, spurring a discussion about what this could mean and what the possible implications are of targeting even more vulnerable homeless youth. CSH will continue to look at this data throughout the evaluation, to better understand the service utilization and outcomes of the young people in comparison to their triage tool scores.
Symposium attendees also heard directly from a panel of supportive housing providers for TAY. Leadership from CRCD, Jovenes, KYCC, Step Up On Second, and WORKS shared their insights from operating supportive housing for youth and young adults. The discussion honed-in on the importance and challenges of engaging youth in services; the pros and cons of providing different services in-house; the need to increase mental health support services; and strategies to better coordinate a “warm hand-off” with service providers whom the youth are connected to prior to entering supportive housing. When asked about their vision for the youth they serve in supportive housing, panelists expressed they wanted to help youth regain hope, peace, and stability; foster the young person’s independence, and self-sufficiency; and most importantly, help them develop their own vision for themselves, their future, and their success.
Perhaps the most impactful at the symposium was the featured speaker of the morning, Ms. Aleah Guillory. Aleah is a young mother living at the 28th Street Apartments, a supportive housing community for formerly homeless adults and TAY in the Vernon-Central neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Aleah shared her story of becoming homeless due to depression after losing her grandmother, and the challenges she faced while being on the street. She tried a number of transitional housing programs, but they were not a good fit for her. Aleah found support through her case manager at My Friend’s Place and counseling through Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She moved into the 28th Street Apartments in December 2012, and was able to complete a Certificate in Cosmetology at Marinello School of Beauty last year. Aleah is now a Supportive Housing Community Advocate, and recently went up to Sacramento for CSH’s California Lobby Day to educate legislators about the importance of key bills to end homelessness, particularly the Homes and Jobs Act.
A big THANK YOU to Bank of America, for their support of the TAY Supportive Housing Symposium.
To access the data presentation and other materials from the TAY Supportive Housing Symposium, click on the links below:
The full year-one report of Stable Homes, Brighter Futures can be found here.