This past summer, Alternatives For Girls brought on-line Detroit’s first Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) program targeting youth. Nationally, RRH is increasingly being used as an intervention to serve young people, and AFG’s program has already found tremendous success here. The program takes referrals through the CAM and assists both unaccompanied and parenting youth experienching homelessness age 18-24. We reached out to AFG’s Toyia Yancey who manages the program to learn more about the program and how they have been so successful so far:
CAM: How did the RRH program come to be at AFG?
TY: Alternatives For Girl’s RRH program began as a result of our partnership with the Homeless Youth Subcommittee. This subcommittee was an outgrowth of Councilmember Mary Sheffield’s Homeless Taskforce and was co-chaired by our CEO, Amy Good, and Jerry Peterson, the Executive Director of the Ruth Ellis Center. After about two years of subcommittee work, the partnership initially responded to a request for proposal on the federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project and then the youth-specific RRH opportunity.
CAM: What services does the program provide to youth?
TY: We provide financial assistance in the form of a security deposit and ongoing rental assistance to homeless youth ages 18-24 both male and female. We also provide one-on-one housing search assistance, which is done by the housing coordinator. Her job is to contact the participants once a week to inquire about their housing search, and to give them additional housing resources as needed. We also have a Employment Specialist whose job is to help the participants assess their current and future goals pertaining to education and employment, and to help them with resources and guidance to potentially attend or finish school in some cases, or increase their income.
CAM: What unique challenges do youth experiencing homelessness face?
TY: One of the unique challenges the youth face, is that most of them don’t have credit or income. This is a problem when trying to identify a unit or when the landlord is requesting a background check.
CAM: How does AFG’s RRH program address these challenges to support youth?
TY: The housing coordinator is working to recruit and continue to build the landlord resource listing, by reaching out to landlords and giving an overview of the RRH program. This helps because we are able to give participants a housing resource list at intake, to assist with their search.
CAM: What are two main ways in which the program has been successful so far?
TY: We have been able to house 21 participants at this point, with the projection for six month only being 10. Another success is the fact that we have housed participants together, which frees up 2 shelter beds.
CAM: What do you think have been the keys to that success?
TY: One of the main reasons why I believe AFG’s RRH program is successful, is because of the team work. Our team is really small but strong; they put so much effort and care into working with our clients. The second reason is that we have great participants, they are willing to work with us and utilize the guidance that they are given. More importantly the clients are grateful and many of them do not want to exit the program because of the support they receive, support that they are not used to having from family and friends, and because of this success happens.
CAM: Anything else you’d like to share about the program?
TY: We are always looking for landlord resources and donations of home goods for our clients, many of them move in with nothing, we utilize donations to give them move in care packages. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.
Learn more about AFG by visiting: www.alternativesforgirls.org