Threshold Housing Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
Youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in Canada. Fuelled by family dysfunction, mental illness and addiction, many unaccompanied youth today are falling through the cracks allowing them to fall into chronic poverty and unemployment.
Threshold is committed to a "housing first" policy that believes long-term transitional housing is the best help that an at-risk youth can be offered to become stable, finish school and build a life. Given the absence of the normal long-term support a family would provide a developing adolescent, Threshold provides a safe home, life-skills and self-esteem building to youth who deserve a chance to prove themselves.
Many of the youth who come to Threshold stay for one year or longer. Unlike a shelter, long-term transitional housing permits the growth of positive relationships, the fostering of community and the stability for healthy decisions to be made.
A youth is unaccompanied and homeless for many reasons. Such youth bring with them trauma, anxiety and low self-esteem. None of these issues are easily addressed. They take time, care and hope. Threshold is the helping hand up for such youth.
Our Story What We Do
Who Do We Serve? We serve male and female youth at risk of becoming homeless between the ages of 16 and 22. The youth are referred from a variety of agencies, including the Ministry of Children and Family Development, child and family services, high schools and families. In the last year, the largest referral source have been at-risk youth themselves through self-referrals. Youth come to us from across Vancouver Island. In the last year, Threshold received 117 applications for the 30 rooms or units it has available.
What Do We Do? We provide a transitional housing program for at-risk youth seeking independence. We run the program using two models of youth housing: semi-independent living and supported independent living. Our goal is to ensure an at-risk youth receives the support they need as they grow through adolescence in the absence of a functional family. Besides meeting their need for safe housing, Threshold also supplies life-skills and transitional planning. While in the program, a youth must be workng, completing school, or in a program to seek work. By working closely with each youth in terms of emotional management, building boundaries, creating community, it is hoped each youth will also have a positive rental experience as a stepping stone to self-reliance.
Since our inception in 1992, Threshold has provided stable housing for approximately 300 youth. Between 2012 and 2016, Threshold has increased its capacity to house youth by 200%, fuelled mostly the need in the community.
Threshold believes in the long-term nature of its work because an at-risk youth needs time to stabilize, feel safe and be supported before making decisions about the future. It is Threshold's experience that the longer an "at-risk" youth is in transition, they better they become identified as "at-promise." Many of our residents have gone off to become established members of the community.
Our Programs How We Do It
Services: The Threshold Housing Society offers long-term transitional housing opportunities for at-risk youth along with Life Skills training and transitional planning.
Semi-independent model: This model works best with youth who have an eye toward wanting to live on their own in the near future, but may not be quite ready yet. Private rooms are provided in a house with a live-in supervisor. We have a house for young men (five residents) and one for young women (four residents). All the bedrooms are private with their own individual lock and key. While there is a lot of freedom within the model, residents are expected to participate in the house programs, especially the life-skills programs which runs weekly in each house. To apply for this model, youths must be between 16 to 21 years of age.
Supported Independent Living (SIL) model: Our SIL model is called the Safe Housing for Youth (SHY) Program. This program is for youth who are ready for independence but with supervision. We will provide as many self-containied housing units as we able to secure. We are not a detox centre and we do not necessarily accept youth coming out of a juvenile centre or prison. To apply for this program, youths must be between 16 to 22 years of age.
Threshold is able to house about 30 youth in all of its programs.
The Self-Worthshops as Life-Skills
The Self-Worthshop Program works on an experiential level to raise a youth's self-esteem and self-worth. This program is more than a generic brand of life-skills building. Threshold's experience is that to assist youth in moving from poverty toward well-being and independence, the motivation must come from within for any meaningful change to happen. This can be achieved by allowing youth to live in a community where a healthy lifestyle is encouraged and modelled.
Consequently, in designing a program that will make a difference, its aim cannot be to merely teach life skills but to work on the inner dynamics of youth so that they want to have those skills. Working on self-worth gets at the heart of a youth's resistance and hesitancy to move forward. Through art, food, and talking circles that enrich safety, inclusion and connection, a positive moment takes place that brings a young person closer to their core values that are not tainted entirely by fear and perhaps trauma.
Self-worthshops have one theme: making growth and change irresistible. It also has a motto: self-worth leads to self-care.
What You Can Do
Threshold receives less than 25% of its operating budget from public funding. That means it depends heavily on donors who have a heart. Without the security of multi-year funding, Threshold works hard on an annual basis to ensure it has the financial ability to offer its services. Donations through the Victoria Foundation are key; without their support, Threshold would be unable to supply the "hand-up" so badly needed by unaccompanied youth in our community.
Currently, in 2016, Threshold is in an expansion phase. The Society is looking for partners to assist us in the leasing of self-contained rental units, or, the purchase of property that will lead to a new home in Greater Victoria. Threshold expansion is being driven by need. On average, Threshold receives about 120 applications/year while having only 30 rooms and units available. Youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population nationally. Studies as far back as 2007 reveal there are, at least, over 200 youth who need housing in the region. In a 2015 study by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, youth homelessness was called a "crisis." Most of the youth today, unlike years past, are not street-entrenched, but are "hidden," meaning they are trying to complete school or hold down a job while being unaccompanied and living precariously. Most at-risk youth do not self-identify as homeless because they are afraid of the stigma, but because they are unseen make the issue of youth homelessness a difficult one for most people to understand.
In its 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, the Society intends to make spaces for at least 50 youth. Threshold cannot do this alone. It is committed to working with partners who have the knowledge, skills and ability to permit us to offer our services.