September 2019 Director’s Report: Helping Real Youth Who Are Facing a Housing Crisis


I pour a lot of my energy into big-picture thinking, asking what it will
take to shift our response to youth homelessness to think beyond remedying mere “houselessness” to making sure that young people
have the love and caring connections that are really what make a
house a home.

So the stories of how our work is helping actual youth fill my heart
with hope. We’re pleased to share we’ve begun consulting with HOPE 4 Youth in Anoka to create their HOPE Homes program to stabilize informal hosting arrangements with caring community members.

Here’s one story:

“Paula” was in a bind. She’d been staying with her grandma’s
neighbors in an overcrowded apartment, but they’d set a deadline:
Paula had to be out in a week. The 20-year-old high school graduate called HOPE 4 Youth drop-in center.

The next day, HOPE Homes specialist Brenda Pritchard helped Paula fill out a “Circle Map.” They identified people who were “Always,” “Sometimes” and “Maybe” there for Paula. Paula’s completed map showed the apartment complex constituted a supportive community for her, so helping Paula stay near her support system—and her new job at a fast-food restaurant—
became an obvious priority. Paula identified another neighbor, “Anna,” as an option, but as someone on a fixed income, Anna would need financial support in order to host. And, as a renter, Anna would need to inform her landlord. Although he initially objected, after Brenda explained she’d be available to mediate any complaints, the landlord agreed.

Brenda then met with Anna and Paula to create the “Shared Expectations Hosting Agreement,” a strength-based contract that describes how Paula can contribute to the household, establishes house rules, and divvies up the $200 monthly stipend HOPE Home arrangements can receive.

With that financial help and Brenda’s case management, Paula was
able live in a HOPE Home with a community adult!