The Dream Tree Project in Taos, New Mexico, is building casitas, or little houses, for TLP graduates.
FYSB grantees that are operating transitional living programs say that directing youth to safe, appropriate, and affordable housing after they exit their programs is the single most important issue affecting aftercare. If youth are unable to secure stable housing, they may end up back on the street. Finding appropriate housing also helps service providers maintain contact with youth after they have left programs. Grantees say they are more likely to lose contact with youth who are forced, because of limited housing, to return to unstable neighborhoods or situations.
|Onyx Construction, a local company, has provided much of the construction work for the casitas.|
The Dream Tree Project in Taos, New Mexico, a 6-year-old FYSB grantee and transitional living program, has found that community connections make it easier to gain access to affordable housing for youth.
Dream Tree has created an innovative program. Casitas ("little houses" in Spanish) were designed as a series of four apartments located on the same property, 100 feet away from their current transitional living program. The houses are attached to a large community room that will allow residents to participate in the community while maintaining individual space.
|Larkin Street Youth Services launched Ellis Street Apartments in San Francisco.|
Onyx Construction, a local company, provided much of the construction work pro bono, and YouthBuild and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps—programs that employ young people to rebuild their communities and their lives—are providing some of the labor. Many of the youth who will be living in the casitas are helping to build them.
The casitas will provide a structured living environment for those youth who need extra support after they graduate from the transitional living program.
Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, California, a FYSB grantee that operates several transitional living programs, also developed a collaborative community approach to finding affordable housing for youth. Together with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, they launched Ellis Street Apartments, which consists of 24 studio units. Subsidies that go towards lowering rent for Ellis Street come from the Housing Authority and allow residents to pay 30 percent of their income, or if they are unemployed, a smaller amount compared to market rate.
Motivating young people to move from a supportive environment to a truly independent living situation sometimes proves difficult, says Eliza Gibson, chief of programs for Larkin Street.
"There are people who need it, and then there are people who need it for awhile and then they can be quite successful on their own," Gibson says. "How can we motivate them and say, 'Hey guys, you don't really need this program anymore, but how can we support you?'"
The reality is that in San Francisco, market rate rent is sometimes too high even for adults. In addition, many youth that need extended care have health issues.
Gibson says one way they are trying to meet this challenge is by becoming more familiar with adult resources and adult housing and developing stronger linkages with adult housing providers.