SPY made waves in 2018 when its innovative ‘Host Home’ pilot program helped several homeless youths permanently transition off the street by offering them temporary shelter in local resident’s’ homes. Building off of this initial success, the organization is looking for new volunteers willing to open their doors to youth living on the streets.
Venice-based nonprofit Safe Place for Youth has been supporting homeless young adults for twenty years through a continuum of care and housing services. The Host Home program was inspired by similar programs in the UK that have been offering cost-effective supportive shelter to unhoused youth for over 30 years.
“It’s a grassroots approach to addressing our community’s homelessness crisis where we pair transitional age youth 18 to 25 with community members who have underutilized spaces in their homes,” said Iberia Calix, SPY senior housing program manager. “Youth not only obtain access to short term shelter but they are able to build meaningful connections to caring adults in their community.”
The youth who participate in the Host to Home program receive full case management and support services from SPY during their three to six month stay. This time provides participants with an opportunity to save money and focus on their housing, academic, and employment goals.
The Host to Home pilot successfully supported six unhoused individuals and SPY is looking forward to expanding the program to more young people as the risk of the pandemic recedes.
“I love this program! I did from the minute we were offered the opportunity to pilot it and now I’m delighted that we’re continuing to offer this as one of our many solutions to homelessness,” said SPY Founder and Executive Director Alison Hurst.
The program is open to anyone living in L.A. County who has a spare bedroom or private space to offer and is able to provide access to a shared or private kitchen and bathroom. Hosts complete an application, background check, and interview process and have the opportunity to interview and meet with youth before agreeing to the pairing.
“Host to Home was an outstanding experience for the two of us, as we did a nice thing, and it was also very good for us. In our small way we helped two people advance and both of them have been thriving ever since they got off the streets,” said former host Michael Rapkin who, alongside his wife, opened his home to a young couple who were previously living in their car in Venice Beach.
In order to foster positive cohabitation, hosts are taught best practices for positive youth development, effective communication, boundary setting, and navigating trauma. Hosts are not responsible for ‘saving’ the youth and all support services are run by trained SPY professionals.
“A host not is not trying to fix or save their youth or guests; it’s really more of a living arrangement, providing a safe place for the young person to be able to utilize the services and the other wonderful programming that SPY provides so they can attain permanent housing,” said Calix.
Calix said those interested in learning more about becoming a host should contact firstname.lastname@example.org