There's quite a bit more young adults dealing with homelessness in Grand Rapids than you might expect. Forced out of the foster care system at 18, kicked out of their homes, or disowned by their families, these young people are transitioning to adulthood while dealing with the terrifying uncertainty of having no place to rest their heads at night. This issue can quickly become a cycle where the same problems are repeated over and over, culminating in a lifetime of chronic homelessness. It's incredibly important to end this cycle before it can begin.
Grand Rapids has quite a few organizations that provide services for these young adults. They can get a hot meal, shower, a temporary bed for the night, a place to store their belongings... However, permanent housing is still difficult to achieve, and it's the most obvious solution to preventing homelessness. Enter Well House, a nonprofit currently developing a shelter specifically for young people 18-24 years old. Following the housing first initiative, it provides immediate housing, no strings attached. This means residents aren't expected to meet any conditions, complete treatments, or provide evidence of sobriety in order to receive services. This method is especially effective because it provides much needed security first, then helps residents solve the issues that led to their homelessness.
This new youth shelter is designed to provide a stable environment for young adults as they adjust to the responsibilities of becoming an adult. The "house parent" resolves conflicts and disputes. Residents pay a small monthly rent and are protected by a housing contract. This means Well House has to go through the proper legal procedures in order to evict a tenant. The set up is pretty similar to a standard rental agreement, but tenants also have the option of working for Well House, tending the farm or renovating houses.
While it's a pretty simple and logical answer to homelessness, not a lot of organizations practice the housing first method. There's this stigma that people who are homeless deserve their fate and thus should have to earn assistance. But the housing first initiative has had a lot of success, not just in ending chronic homelessness but also in decreasing the number of drug and alcohol-related hospital visits.
To learn more or make a donation, visit the Well House's website.