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Meet Our Neighbours: oneROOF Youth Serivces

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  • A pair of hands holding a house

Gabrielle, Queen's Square | October 1, 2020

The pandemic forced us all to spend more time at home whether we liked it or not. Many of us we were able to hunker down and spend our time trying new recipes and learning how to zoom. But what if you didn’t have a home or safe place to be? 

For 31 years, oneROOF Youth Services has been working with youth experiencing homelessness and youth at risk of experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region with a wide variety of both emergency and preventative services. During the pandemic, they have witnessed an increase in youth accessing the shelter system who have no prior history of needing shelter services. They are also seeing an increase in intakes for youth under the age of 20. To help fill the need, they are expanding their Host Homes program. 

What is a Host Home? 

The purpose of Host Homes is to prevent youth (from ages 16-25) from entering the cycle of homelessness. Community members with an extra room in their home can become a Host Home Provider (HHP). Diverse families of all shapes and sizes are welcome from single individuals, couples or large families with children. The HHP will provide the youth with a room in their home and receive monthly compensation for room and board. Host Home Providers are neither landlords nor guardians; the aim is simply to provide a homelike setting and pro-social connections to a young person who would otherwise be entering an emergency shelter. 

Youth who are referred to the organization will be assessed for potential participation in this program.  Once accepted into the program, they will be matched with a Host Home Provider (HHP). Staff at oneROOF Youth Services will provide ongoing support to both youth and HHP. The goal is for a stay that will enable the youth to remain safe/secure while working with oneROOF Youth Services staff to obtain permanent, stable housing. The length of stay varies based on individual need and provider’s availability. The Host Homes model is recognized as a best-practice prevention and diversion strategy.  Watch Natasha explain Host Homes in this video.

If you wish to learn more about Host Homes, or know anyone who may be interested in becoming a Host Home Provider please contact oneROOF Youth Services by phone: 519-742-2788 ext 7, or by email: hhinfo [at] oneroof.org. For more information about the variety of services oneROOF offers, please visit their website.

Want to learn more about people experiencing homelessness? Check out these resources from our collection:  

In this moving memoir, Jesse Thistle discusses his painful history of homelessness and addiction  - From the Ashes: My story of being Métis, homeless, and finding my way

Follow the stories of three homeless teenagers in this Emmy-award winning, stereotype busting documentary - The Homestretch 

Although written for librarians, this in-depth guide is a terrific resource for anyone looking to interact or work with people experiencing homelessness -  A Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness

For a fictional (but no less enlightening) portrayal of the issues around homelessness, try Richard Wagamese’s beautiful book: Ragged Company, available as an ebook or in paper copy


Meet Our Neighbour series is all about introducing you to local businesses, makers, and performers, as well as some additional resources from our collection.