A new pilot program to combat youth homelessness in the Cowichan Valley is in need of community support to get off the ground.
The program, Host Homes Cowichan, is set up to connect individuals, couples or households with or without children who have a spare room to offer a local youth/young adult experiencing homelessness in the Cowichan region.
With only one potential host in Lake Cowichan having completed an application so far, a series of “Explore Becoming a Host” info sessions are being scheduled across the region.
“We haven’t opened up the application process for youth or young adults yet but that hasn’t stopped the calls from coming in,” said Rosalie Sawrie, the program director with Social Planning Cowichan who is facilitating the program.
“There is definitely a need.”
Sawrie said the community-based program is designed to empower homeless youth and young adults to pursue healthy and independent futures, while enabling members of the community to join in being a part of the solution.
To learn more, three sessions have been scheduled, all beginning at 5:30 p.m. The first is on Nov. 13 at CMHA’s Youth Outreach office, 371 Festubert St. in Duncan; the second is scheduled for Nov. 18 at the Ladysmith Resource Centre, 630 2 Ave. in Ladysmith, and the third is set for Nov. 19 at the Lake Cowichan Arena at 311 South Shore Rd. in Lake Cowichan.
“We understand there are hesitations but no one would be going in blind,” said Sawrie.
Sawrie said that with support and guidance from multiple other community partners, the process has been designed to include an application, screening and orientation training prior to any matching.
Once that is complete, Sawrie said the youth and hosts would receive an information profile of each other and if they agree, an introductory meeting is arranged.
“If they are willing to go ahead, we have both parties complete a living agreement together that sets out expectations and guidelines for living together,” she said.
“There is support for everyone involved at every step of the way. We hope by having these info sessions, we can connect in person and put to rest some of the hesitation in giving it a try.”
More information about the program can be found at www.hosthomescowichan.ca.