Homeless Youth Initiative (HYI)
Alternative House's newest program helps homeless high school students - those who don't have the support of a parent or guardian - with housing so that they can obtain their diploma. During the 2009-2010 school year, approximately 200 high school students in Fairfax County Public Schools were identified by their teachers and administrators as being homeless and without the support of a parent or guardian. These are students who do not have a safe place to live and are all alone.
In 2011, all of the graduating Seniors in the Homeless Youth Initiative went on to higher education.
Without that safe place to stay and a stable roof over their heads, many of them find it difficult - if not impossible - to complete high school. They are often forced to move from house to house, making transportation to school difficult, or they quit school altogether in order to work full time in an effort to afford a place to stay.
The Homeless Youth Initiative was launched in August 2009 to meet these young peoples' needs. Using a combination of host homes, rental assistance and a house in Vienna, HYI helped 65 students in 2010.
In 2009, before the program started, there were 100 homeless high school students in Fairfax County without family support. Almost 10% of them ended up in adult homeless shelters, and there were numerous school drop outs.
"Nancy" is one of those who graduated in June.
In 2010, the first year of HYI, the number of unaccompanied homeless students doubled to 200. However, in part because of HYI, none went to an adult homeless shelter and only one dropped out of school. Of graduating seniors, 77% went on to some form of college.
The Homeless Youth Initiative consists of three parts:
- An Alternative House single family home where four young women reside;
- Private host homes; and
- Small rent subsidies to help students with renting a room in the community.
All of the youth participating in the Homeless Youth Initiative receive housing and community support, as well as case management services, individual therapy, life skills education, tutoring, and assistance with emergency food and supplies.
Host homes are similar in concept to what occurs with a foreign exchange student. The Homeless Youth Initiative matches homeless high school students with host families who can provide them with a stable living environment while they complete high school. Please click here to read more about our Host Home program.
Homeless students who are currently working and can contribute a portion of their income to their rent are eligible for rent subsidies. These students use the small rental subsidy to better balance their work and school commitments with the ultimate goal of high school graduation.
For more information about HYI, call 703.206.9890.