Nonprofit Spotlight: Host Homes

by | Jul 31, 2018

The Host Homes Program is a collaboration between the Home of the Innocents Aftercare Program and the Coalition for the Homeless in an effort to help end young adults experiencing homelessness in the city of Louisville. With funding from the Gheens Foundation, [Give] 502, the Community Foundation, and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund we were able to hire and start building a host homes program this past February. Host Homes is a model designed to address the temporary (which is typically 1-3 months) housing needs of homeless young adults by connecting them with caring adults from the community who are willing to provide safe housing, food, and support. Hosts are unpaid trained volunteers who want to be part of a community solution to ending homelessness.

Providing young adults with a choice is crucial to Host Homes, which allows young adults to select the home where they stay. Each young adult will have a case manager, which may be internal or external to the agency, who refers them to the Host Home Program and works with them throughout their time with the program on stability and permanent housing goals. The case manager is the advocate for the client, and the young adult remains that agency’s client.

The Host Homes Program is responsible to recruit and train adult volunteers to be host homes. We are actively seeking hosts at this point in time. In order to be a host an individual must be 25 years of age, have a private space for a young adult to stay, and be able to support the added food and utility costs hosting would entail. Hosts go through a vetting process that includes background checks and child abuse and neglect checks. This is followed up with two interviews with the Program Manager and a young adult advisory board member. Included in the second interview is a home visit to ensure the space the young adult will be staying in is safe. Finally, hosts attend 2 days of training, where they are trained on things such as cultural competency, LGBTQ+ knowledge, trauma informed care, homelessness, as well as other topics to better understand the young adults that might be moving in with them.

Once hosts have been trained, and the young adult is accepted into the program, the young adult chooses a volunteer host home. The young adult and the host meet with the Host Home Manager, and the client’s case manager in the home to get to know each other. They will meet one more time to decide if it is a good fit, before the client moves in. Throughout the process, the Host Homes Program Manager will be the advocate for the host and the case manager will be the primary advocate for the young adult.  Relationships are the foundation to host homes, which is often described as a messy and magical process.

If you want to learn more about hosting feel free to email Liza Smith, Host Homes Manager, at esmith@homeoftheinnocents.org.

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