Building Stability, Independence for Young Adults

Ellen Winchester, Residential Specialist (L), and Kitti Wood-McCord, Peer Support Specialist (R), help young adults find stable housing

In October, ShelterCare launched a new housing program for young adults (18-24) who are homeless or imminently homeless and also living with a serious mental illness. Many left home due to family instability or because their family could not provide assistance with their mental health diagnosis.

The program was started with a grant from the State of Oregon to provide housing and services for 15 young adults. To date, we have moved four young people into housing and are working with four more to locate affordable housing.

Securing housing for this age group can be challenging, as most have no credit or rental history. They also struggle to find housing because they don’t have someone (like a parent) who can co-sign a lease to help build their rental history. That’s where ShelterCare can be of great assistance.

Each young adult in our program is paired with a Residential Specialist and a Peer Support Specialist. Ellen Winchester, our Residential Specialist, works with clients to find a perfect housing match. She works with landlords throughout the community that are willing to rent directly to our clients. ShelterCare can also create a master lease agreement with landlords. The process of finding a good housing match can be long, as Lane County is experiencing a shortage in affordable housing, so our team also provides encouragement to our clients as they experience the ups and downs of finding a place of their own.

By providing a safe place to live and building daily living skills, the chances are better that these young adults will become thriving members of the community.

“I enjoy working with the young adults because they are so full of hope,” Ellen says. “They have dreams and goals, and I can help them reach those goals by giving them a strong foundation.”

Once the young adults are housed, Kitti Wood-McCord, Peer Support Specialist, helps them identify and work toward their goals, such as volunteering, going back to school or getting a job, and then she helps them understand how important stable housing is to achieving their goals. She also helps clients learn how to live on their own, as most of them have never managed a household before.

The future is bright for this program and for the new residents who are working on creating stable futures for themselves.

Watch a recent KMTR news story about the housing shortage in Lane County, which features Kateylynn, a client in our young adult program, who just moved into an apartment of her very own.

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