From Landlord to Mentor
Cultivating authentic partnerships within the community is one of our primary responsibilities here at R.E.S.T.
R.E.S.T. is committed to providing housing for homeless and at-risk youth. Equally important as providing housing, however, is ensuring a positive living environment that allows youth to flourish and develop. With our Bridge of Hope program, we work collaboratively with landlords to support the youth, providing them with coaching, training and monthly check-ins.
Many of the youth we serve are between the delicate ages of 16-22 and come from backgrounds where they received limited guidance and mentorship. The landlords that we partner with can play an integral role in fostering the development of youth along the right trajectory and therefore, having a lasting positive impact on their lives.
Carol Melville is one such landlord. Currently, she houses two young women from R.E.S.T’s programs, and has gladly taken on the role of being a positive role model to them, offering continuous advice, guidance and support.
“There’s youth out there that need that positive reinforcement and guidance to be able to open up more. With the girls I’m housing, I want to help do my part,” said Melville.
When she first partnered with R.E.S.T, she was given an 18-year-old female tenant. Initially, she was hesitant about being a landlord for an at-risk youth. However, seeing the enthusiasm and friendliness of the young person very quickly changed her mind and made her want to play a role in improving the circumstances of this youth. “The 18-year-old youth I’m currently housing wants to become a social worker, and I find that so inspiring. I like that she has a plan that she wants to put into motion, and I’m happy that I get to help.”
On top of helping out when it comes to grocery shopping and buying essential needs, Melville says she likes to advise the youth about growing up with a female perspective. She noted they are still in their developing ages and need that support from an adult who has gone through similar experiences.
It is important to remember that over 75% of youth homelessness cases are caused by some form of family breakdown, typically involving abuse or neglect. A significant number of homeless youth have not received sufficient guidance from an adult perspective, and therefore, head into adulthood with limited knowledge on many aspects of life.
Landlords like Carol Melville who go above and beyond for these youth and help guide them on the path of success, are greatly appreciated. Most youth seeking housing opportunities are unfortunately rejected because of their age or background. And even for youth who do manage to secure accommodation, their challenges are far from over. Many landlords take advantage of vulnerable youth by giving them places with unacceptable living conditions, safety hazards and inexplicably high rent for small spaces.
Melville admitted that prior to R.E.S.T, she had no idea about the widespread prevalence and severity of youth homelessness. “I knew nothing, absolutely nothing until I had these youth here,” she said.
While she understands why some landlords are hesitant towards housing youth, she encourages them to try it anyway if they are willing to help those at-risk who need it.
“There needs to be more information out there with what these youth are dealing with, and more people willing to give them support. I say that people should try renting if they have the space. If it doesn’t work out, you can always back out, but it doesn’t hurt to try it out and see how you can help.”
While R.E.S.T. will work tirelessly to continue providing youth with housing and support, we implore more people with open and available spaces to consider renting them to those that need them. If you cannot, consider donating to R.E.S.T. today to help us support these youth on their path to living happier, healthier lives.