Who We Serve
Home Start launched the Host Homes Program in February to help place homeless and housing insecure youth into the homes of generous San Diegans. The new program aims to move these youth into permanent, stable housing where they can focus on their education and employment goals.
Serving ages 14-24, typically youth in need are referred through one of Home Start’s many other programs. Most of these youth are newly homeless and have been couch surfing or staying with friends and extended family. This intervention can also serve as a critical prevention tool, diverting youth from chronic homelessness and other negative trajectories.
What Is a Host Home?
Any home can be a host home! A Host Home is a local San Diego home with a room in their house, and their heart, to spare. Hosts must be over the age of twenty-five, have lived in San Diego for at least one year, and have an extra bedroom with access to a bathroom and kitchen. All host family members over eighteen will be screened and tested for TB.
After a Host Home fills out the application and passes the initial interviews, a Home Start representative will come to inspect the home before beginning the matching process.
Once the youth and hosts are matched, we meet for a Host-Youth Contract meeting to discuss expectations and rules around living together. After the meeting, if both the youth and host are comfortable with each other and are ready to move forward, we schedule a move-in date.
“We make sure that the youth and the host are comfortable with each other and try to create the best match possible for both, before moving in.”– Selma Hassane, Host Homes Coordinator
Each host home situation can look a little different, depending on the expectations each person has coming into the program and how the host-youth relationship develops. The family can sign up to be a host for as many months as they prefer, up to 12 months.
“We want to ensure that throughout their entire participation in the program, both the youth and the host feel comfortable and supported.”
Throughout the stay, the Host Homes Coordinator conducts weekly check-ins with the host and weekly case management meetings with the youth. The Host Homes Coordinator is a support system for the youth and the host and can be reached any time. Additionally, the youth is supported with wraparound services such as transportation or the therapist in our program, and the hosts also receive a $500 stipend per month.
Why Be A Host Home?
It’s one thing to volunteer your time or donate money, but it’s another to open your home. The Host Homes Program is an intimate and transformative experience for those involved. In addition to the resources that the Host Homes Coordinator provides the host with, the host’s participation in the program is very rewarding. Connections formed can positively transform our community by putting a face to the enormous homelessness crisis and eradicating the negative stigma often associated with it.
Being a host is a powerful and unique experience and far from easy. The commitment to be a host volunteer is a serious one, but in turn, it will hopefully prove to be a gratifying and empowering experience for all involved. The Host Homes Program at Home Start will only succeed with the involvement and support of the community.
A Host Home Success
While the program only began this year, we’ve already showed the difference it can make for all involved.
Maya, a 22-year old, was couch surfing at a relative’s house. After we determined she would be a good fit for the Host Homes program and brought it up to her she was interested. After meeting only once, Maya was ecstatic and got along well with the hosts. Maya moved into the host home in May and has flourished since — undertaking an aggressive job search, applying to at least 10 jobs per week, and was recently offered a position at WalMart. Maya is very independent and has strong budgeting skills. She plans to save as much money as possible while living in the host home so that she can be self-sufficient once she exits the program.
As for the hosts, they couldn’t be happier with the experience.
Could You Offer A Host Home?
The first step is to learn more here where you can also access the Host Interest Form, which you can fill out and the Host Homes Coordinator will contact you immediately. You can also find out more by reaching out to our Host Homes Coordinator, Selma Hassane, directly.
“If you hear about this program and think even for a minute “I could become a host,” don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be more than happy to talk through this program with you and see if it will be a good fit and ensure that it is serving your needs.”
You can reach Selma at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-782-2239.