TORONTO, Jun. 16, 2017 – An innovative pilot program to help formerly homeless youth stay off the street by providing them with housing and support, including community case workers, has shown promising results.

As a partner in the multi-agency project, Covenant House provided a case worker and youth from the agency participated.

“We are pleased to play a role in this important work and are encouraged by the results which point to the prospect of better outcomes for our young people,” Bruce Rivers, Covenant House executive director says. “It is critical that we find ways to better support youth who are trying to make their way so that we can help end the cycle of homeless.”

Led by CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), the Housing Outreach Program-Collaboration (HOP-C), includes a team of mental health professionals, peer support workers and youth-serving agencies helping young people transition out of homelessness. The program was launched in 2015 with initial funding from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

CAMH researcher Dr. Sean Kidd says HOP-C has shown great promise, leading to improvements in housing, education and employment for many of the youth who took part.

“The way our system is set up it tends to be largely crisis oriented, but often those supports fall off once youth locate housing, and the outcomes tend to be poor,” says Dr. Kidd.

“This approach is designed to provide peer support, mental health support, addiction support, as well as outreach-based case management in this critical time of transition. The idea is to provide support in that first year of housing, connect recently homeless youth to services and supports, and give them a stronger sense of self and community so they are more likely to be successful in permanently leaving homelessness.”

Based on the results, the program will be the subject of a formal clinical trial and expand to Thunder Bay, with additional provincial funding so that it can be tested in a smaller community.

Along with the HOP-C expansion, a new “survival” guide, written by formerly homeless youth for homeless youth, has also been published.