Housing First for Youth

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What is Housing First for Youth (HF4Y)

Adapted from the successful Housing First approach, Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) is a rights-based intervention for young people (aged 13-24) who are experiencing homelessness, or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

One of the goals of HF4Y is to support young people through their adolescence and facilitate a healthy transition to adulthood, all while having a safe and stable place to call home.

Another goal is to help prevent homelessness or help youth to quickly exit homelessness. HF4Y is designed to address the needs of developing adolescents and young adults by providing them with immediate access to housing that is safe, affordable and appropriate, and the necessary and age-appropriate supports that focus on health, wellbeing, life skills, engagement in education and employment, and social inclusion. It is not time limited, and more than just offering housing and supports.

The Core Principles of HF4Y

Immediate access to housing with no preconditions

All Housing First services are based on upholding housing without preconditions as a human right as described by the UN. For youth, age is an important consideration in the type of housing provided. Housing for HF4Y needs to be safe, affordable and appropriate, based on the needs and abilities of developing adolescents and young adults.

Individual, client-driven support with no time limit

Due to their age and stage of development, HF4Y recognises that the needs of young people evolve over time, so the nature and range of supports must be adaptable. Individualised plans of care take into account developmental changes, capabilities and capacities, maturity and level of independence.

Youth choice and self-determination

As a rights-based, client-centred approach, HF4Y emphasizes youth choice regarding housing and supports. In practice, it means presenting the options available that fit the criteria of HF4Y, the pros and cons of each, what is recommended given the young person's circumstances, and asking them what they would like to do and what support they think they need.

Social and community integration

Social inclusion and community integration are crucially important to the development of adolescents and young adults. HF4Y promotes social inclusion by helping young people build strengths, skills and relationships that will enable them to fully integrate into and participate in their community, in education and employment.

Positive youth development orientation

HF4Y uses a strengths-based approach that focuses not just on a young person's risk and vulnerability, but also their strengths to build self-esteem; improve communication and problem-solving skills; enhance and build natural supports, including family relationships; access opportunities and identify personal interests.

An Introduction to Housing First for Youth (HF4Y)

Designed for people who are learning about Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) for the first time, this short introductory guide offers an overview of the key elements of HF4Y and why it’s important, together with frequently asked questions and answers.

Read or download the publication here.

Rock Trust Housing First For Youth Pilot

The Rock Trust Housing First project supports care leavers aged 16- 25 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in West Lothian. The Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) project operated as a 31-month pilot, starting in September 2017. It aimed to offer access to appropriate independent housing, provided through Almond Housing Association and West Lothian Council, alongside intensive, on-going support from project workers.

This evaluation was commissioned and funded by the Housing First Europe Hub. It was undertaken by Imogen Blood & Associates, with the University of York.

Read or download the publication here.

THIS Is Housing First for Youth: Europe – A program model guide

Working in cooperation with our partners in Canada, Ireland, Scotland and The Netherlands, the Hub is delighted to announce the publication of This Is Housing First for Youth – Europe – a programme model guide for starting up and running HF4Y in Europe. The guide is available in English and French.

Read or download the guide:

HF4Y Community of Practice

The Housing First Europe Hub established a Housing First for Youth Community of Practice!

This would allow professionals and front line staff to have a space where they can share experiences and knowledge, and confront each other on the practice of Housing First for Youth.

If you are interested in taking part in this initiative, please fill out this form.

Feel free to also share the link with anyone who may want to be a part of this community– the more the merrier!

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Arturo Coego, Programme Coordinator at the Housing First Europe Hub.

HF4Y Trainers’ Directory

These trainers can offer specialised training in Housing First for Youth.

Our main Trainers’ Directory is also available in our Training section here.

  • Jana Hajkova

    Jana Hájková

    Heimstaden Czech s.r.o.

    Country: Czech Republic

    Languages: CzechEnglish

    I manage the S NÁMI DOMŮ project (WITH US HOME program), which has been operating since 2018 and meets all the conditions of Housing First for Youth. As part of the program, we provide housing for children leaving children’s homes and foster families and help them integrate into society.

  • 032_Mitarbeiterinnenportraits__Liebentritt_06. Oktober 2020 - Marlene

    Marlene Panzenböck

    Neunerhaus – Hilfe für obdachlose Menschen

    Country: Austria

    Languages: EnglishGermanSpanish

    Marlene is a project manager and team leader at neunerhaus Housing First in Vienna and a lecturer for Housing First at the Vienna University of Applied Sciences. Marlene previously worked as a social worker with young refugees and in the education sector.

  • 20210512_155402-e1622800884906-3.jpg

    Melanie Schmit

    LIMOR & Housing First Netherlands

    Country: Netherlands

    Languages: DutchEnglish

    Melanie’s working life focus on people in need, and especially on the field of homelessness. She studied social work, then completed a bachelor’s degree in health care management and a study around professional coaching and leadership. She’s currently focusing on education around public affairs after having started as a social worker in a homelessness service and becoming a Housing First manager for adults and for youth. Today, Melanie works for LIMOR on scaling up, further developing, and promoting Housing First in the Northern and Western part of The Netherlands. She’s also training groups on Housing First. Melanie was one of the co-initiators of Housing First Netherland and is now its president.

  • Peter

    Peter Brepoels

    Steunpunt Mens en Samenleving

    Country: Belgium

    Languages: DutchEnglish

    Peter started to work in youth and young adult care in the nineties, being focused on youth at risk of becoming homeless or young adults being homeless. At the time some of his older colleagues advised him to lower his expectations as to what could be achieved. He continued working, and 10 years later, caught himself being that older colleague telling the younger ones to ‘not put their hopes up too high’. After he discovered the Housing First approach, he learnt that his initial hopes of achieving positive outcomes for homeless youth could be realised, and became a Housing First trainer.

  • 2023-03-23-094503_4 - Thomas Lam

    Thomas Lambrechts

    Capuche asbl

    Country: Belgium

    Languages: French

    Development of associative project for more than 20 years. I have worked in the fields of culture, politics, sport/leisure and real estate. Investing 100% in HF4Y projects since 2021.

  • Tomáš Novotný - Tomáš Novotný

    Tomáš Novotný

    Spolek PORTAVITA

    Country: Czech Republic

    Languages: Czech

    I started working in 2006 in a Halfway house Chamomile as a social worker and since the year 2013 an educator in a facility for children requiring immediate help in the same organization Chamomile. I did these two jobs at the same time until 2017. After that I started working as a social worker in an Asylum for families with children Hannah, where I worked for 3 years. In 2020, I started as a key social worker in the PORTAVITA Housing First for adults project, where I still work today. Supported persons are mainly single mothers with children, but also complete families. The second project Housing First for Adults is already running at the moment.

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the implications of homelessness for young people?

What are the causes of youth homelessness?

Who is Housing First for Youth for?

How are youth different from the adult population in their housing needs?

What types of housing are provided in Housing First for Youth?

Can Housing First for Youth be used as a preventative measure?

How is Housing First for Youth different from other models of youth housing support?

What are the differences between Housing First for Youth and Housing First?

How does Housing First for Youth support education and employment for young people?