Theme 2: Sustaining successful EXITS from homelessness

There is no doubt that for young people the experience of homelessness has profound consequences for health, safety, and well-being. Prolonged experience of homelessness undermines housing stability and wellness even if young people exit homelessness, as many continue to grapple with trauma and other mental health challenges, addictions, and extreme poverty.

Research on housing trajectories for youth who have transitioned from homelessness suggest that simply being housed does not indicate well-being, nor is it a strong predictor of healthy living, labour force participation, and social inclusion.

A key conclusion is that an effective response to youth homelessness must help currently homeless young people to exit the streets through supports that enhance well-being in order to truly achieve housing stability. The focus of this research theme is to understand housing trajectories and evaluate interventions to build a solid evidence base for more effective supports for youth transitioning from homelessness, thus leading to sustainable positive outcomes. MtS will engage in research designed to identify factors that build assets, strengthen resilience, and enhance inclusion. We will explore what policy and practice interventions have the greatest impact on helping young people to thrive.

Research sub-themes

2.1 Understanding Housing Stabilization

MtS research will focus on the experiences of young people who have exited homelessness to understand their housing trajectories. Prioritizing sub-populations (Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, and newcomer and refugee youth) who are vulnerable to homelessness is crucial to assist public institutions in service and policy design, such as for youth in care and those exiting corrections, and the pathways of Indigenous and other racialized populations.

2.2 Housing First for Youth (HF4Y)

Traditional models of housing and support, designed for adults, do not demonstrate strong outcomes for young people under 25.  This includes Housing First.  As a result, the COH, in partnership with AWHC, developed the program intervention “Housing First for Youth”, designed to meet the needs of developing adolescents and young adults.  MtS will work to test the intervention and build the evidence base for its effectiveness in different contexts.

2.3 Interventions Supporting Stabilization

This sub-theme examines a range of supports to enhance mental health, increase employment prospects, and/or increase technology and communications strategies to build life skills and enhance access to housing and supports for young people who obtain housing on their own, or who are receiving support through HF4Y, Rapid Rehousing, or other transitional housing programs. The policies, interventions, and support models used may or may not include a housing component.

2.4 Addressing Legal and Justice Issues

The range of legal and justice issues that homeless youth face is varied and complex. Research conducted under this sub-theme will investigate a range of supports designed to enhance legal knowledge amongst youth and increase access to supports (including legal consultation and/or representation) to address their legal needs.