Introduction to Housing First for Youth

Individualized, Client-driven Supports with No Time Limits

This is the fourth core principle of HF4Y.

A client-driven approach recognizes that all young people are unique, and so are their needs. Services and supports must take into account age, ability, culture, gender or sexual orientation and diverse perspectives. Rather than force young people to fit the program, the program model must fit the needs of young people.

Active engagement without coercion

Acknowledging young people have choice does not mean that case management supports must be avoided. Active engagement without coercion means case managers are assertive, though very importantly not aggressive, when working with youth. This includes having honest and frank conversations with youth about the short- and long-term consequences of their actions.

No time limits

Young people need time to stabilize, recover from their experiences and begin to heal while exploring their hopes and dreams for their future. They have been in survival mode which means they haven’t had an opportunity to reflect on future plans and goals or what is important to them.

Supports must be provided with flexible time frames. Those under 18 and/or those who have experienced trauma or who have more complicated developmental, mental health and disability challenges may require supports in a HF4Y program for up to three years.

The needs of young people will evolve over time, so the nature and range of supports must be adaptable. Individualized plans of care will need to take account of developmental changes, capabilities and capacities, maturity and level of independence, and they should be updated regularly in consultation with young people.

Ways to apply the principle:

  • Treat young people with respect and dignity

  • Remove ‘zero tolerance’ policies (e.g., for substance use) in shelters, drop-ins and housing programs

  • Invest time to build trusting relationships with young people

  • Allow young people to make informed decisions about services of their choice

  • Consider developmental capabilities, maturity and level of independence in individual plans of care and reassess/review often