Video: Three new youth homes open in Vancouver

“Without youth homes like this I would have had no hope. I would have had nobody there going hey, let me help you.” – Fialka, Youth Peer

Three new youth homes – including a low-barrier house – are now open for young people experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance use problems.

Youth Haven, a new five-bed, low barrier home recently opened in East Vancouver. VCH, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Directions Youth Services – a division of Family Services of Greater Vancouver – have partnered to provide the home, which will care for up to 120 youth every year and will offer temporary housing as well as substance use, mental health and public health supports on site.

Using a “no questions asked approach” the home is available to vulnerable teens – including those who may need support in taking the first steps to overcome drug or alcohol issues. In other words, youth (aged 16 – 19) can walk in the door with their pets and possessions – no questions asked.

It’s also a place for youth to get connected to counselling and substance use services.  “It’s a safe place for youth to come. It gets them off the street. They can come for a meal or a shower or just the night,” explains Emily Giguere, VCH’s Clinical Planner for Youth Substance and Prevention Services.

“It’s also a place for youth to get connected to counselling and substance use services. We know that some homeless youth won’t go to shelters for a variety of reasons, but this is not a shelter, it’s a home, with connections to health care and other supports that youth desperately need,” adds Giguere.

VCH is also partnering with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) to provide 10 new youth beds at two homes; one for 16 to 18-year-olds and another for 19 to 24-year-olds, including those transitioning out of government care. The two homes are located in Vancouver and were purchased by BC Housing.

“Our ultimate goal for these homes and all of the changes made through the CYMHSU strategy is to ensure our youth feel connected and supported throughout their journey to recovery,” says Lizzy Ambler, Operations Director, Child & Youth Mental Health & Substance Use.  “These new homes will provide a warm, supportive and welcoming place for youth struggling with mental health and addictions so they can work towards recovery, healing and independence.”

The youth homes are part of VCH Vancouver Community’s larger Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) strategy. The strategy was developed through an extensive consultation process across Vancouver, including youth, parents/guardians, teachers, clinicians, partner organizations and our frontline staff.  Stakeholder feedback resulted in over 88 recommendations. Out of these recommendations, we developed key priorities which are now being implemented to improve the care we provide to Vancouver children, youth and their families in need. For more information on the three new youth homes, please view the News Release. For information on the overall CYMHSU strategy, please visit our Child & Youth Mental Health & Substance Use strategy web page.

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