A social enterprise housing model for youth will put young residents in the driver’s seat of their experience. With a goal to have youth co-design the programs within the housing site. (Photo courtesy the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness)

A social enterprise housing model for youth will put young residents in the driver’s seat of their experience. With a goal to have youth co-design the programs within the housing site. (Photo courtesy the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness)

Victoria youth-led housing project promotes security, opportunity

Programs to be designed by youth experiencing homelessness

After a three-year collaboration Victoria has it’s first housing designed by, and for, youth.

To start, the youth-led social enterprise housing model will welcome 12 young people experiencing homelessness or aging out of care. The goal, according to the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH) is to have 25 to 30 youth experiencing chronic or marginal homelessness co-design an innovative housing model.

“This initiative allows for unparalleled community involvement in research, and places youth squarely in the driver’s seat by taking them seriously as agents of change within their own lives,” said Jarvis Neglia, GVCEH project manager of research. “It’s vital to invest in empowering young people experiencing homelessness to change their own lives through collective learning and action.”

READ ALSO: Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

The supportive housing project will have 15 staff on site and offer residents mentorship and opportunities through arts, business, community and university partnerships.

“When choices are always prescribed, youth feel unprepared to enter adulthood,” said Emily Jackson, Prevention of Youth Homelessness Coordinator for GVCEH and a former youth in care. “This project supports youth by prioritizing autonomy through self-assessment and discovery.”

For the last three years, members of the Youth Task Force – comprised of community agencies, government and other partners – have discussed solutions for youth homelessness in the region, informing the new housing initiative. A team of five youth with recent lived experience were employed to inform the various stages of development.

BC Housing and GVCEH will provide operating funding. The location of the housing site is not being released in order to protect the identity of residents.

READ ALSO: Housing, homelessness and affordability top concerns in Greater Victoria: Vital Signs report


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