New program asks people to open doors to homeless young adults

New program asks people to open doors to homeless young adults
Officials with the Home of the Innocents hope the new initiative will help accomplish the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville is known as a compassionate city, so how compassionate are you? Would you open your home up to someone who needs help? A local organization that helps the homeless in the community is hoping so.

The Coalition for the Homeless is starting a new program called Host Homes Pilot Project which invites local families to open their homes to provide safe, temporary housing for young adults as an alternative to living on the streets or emergency shelter.

The program, which will be carried out by Home of the Innocents, will provide homeless young adults, ages 18-24, with a stable home environment and support services while they navigate the process of finding and securing their own permanent housing or reuniting with family.

"Launching this project will help us move towards the ultimate goal of ending youth homelessness in Louisville by 2020," Coalition for the Homeless executive director Natalie Harris said. "This program fills the gap in short-term, stable housing for young adults, and it has proven very successful in other cities, such as Minneapolis."

The Coalition for the Homeless said local families are now being recruited to participate in the pilot program. After an extensive screening and training process, families will serve as hosts for up to three months while the young people work with a case manager on a permanent housing solution.

Melissa Kratzer with the Coalition for the Homeless says many of the young adults who are homeless have aged out of the foster care system, are LGBTQ, pregnant or parents. This pilot program would keep them out of emergency shelters, off the streets and out of the risk of human trafficking.

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Kratzer understands that many may be reluctant to welcome in a stranger into their home.

"That's why we are partnering with the Home of the Innocents, because they are the experts in the field of recruiting and thoroughly vetting and training families so they will feel prepared," Kratzer said.

Host families must provide a room that is separate with a door that closes and food. If families need help with things like food, that can be arranged.

In the first year, the project hopes to help about 20 young adults and start placing young adults with families by this summer.  Homeless young adults will choose which family they would like to stay with and the program coordinator will help facilitate a match.

The program would help people like Kiandra Hilliard.  She's 21 years old now, when she just turned 19 she was living on the streets after she got into an argument with her mother and decided to leave. Hilliard was homeless for a year.

"It was hard to survive in the shelter on the streets because you had to watch your back everyday 24-7," Hilliard said.

Hilliard is serving on the Coalition of the Homeless Youth Advisory Board and helping with the organizations new Host Homes Pilot Program.

"If you really have a good heart than you will trust that the person will do right and you will do right by the person," Hilliard said.

If the pilot project is successful, the program will be expanded and opened to more families in 2019.

The Coalition for the Homeless received funding more than $53,000 in grand funds for the program.

For more information about the Host Homes Pilot Project or how to become a Host Home family, please call Melissa Kratzer at (502) 636-9550 ext. 213, email at mkratzer@louhomeless.org, or visit www.louhomeless.org.

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