Cohort Independent Living at the HI Hostel
YESS’ new Cohort Independent Living Program is a one-year pilot project to address some of the direct barriers and stressors affecting youth in shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Federal Reaching Home Funding administered by Homeward Trust Edmonton, YESS is leasing the Hostel International Edmonton Building in Queen Alexandra to provide youth, aged 18-24, who are ready to practice independence and transition to other housing, the opportunity to live together in “youth cohorts” of up to three. The creation of these youth cohorts allows youth to be unmasked and to not be physically distanced from each other for the first time in 12 months. The hostel is also divided up into four wings, which have been allocated to specific demographics, such as Tier 1 and 2 Isolation Wing; Sober School and Employment Wing, etc. We have already seen success with this program as youth have been able to relax and build stronger relationships with their cohort. Youth have co-created this program along with Manager of Shelters, Tessa Mulcair, and have created many of the rules and processes in the program. Youth also fill out a self-assessment of knowledge and life skills when they enter this program and then choose a key support worker to help them work on a personal plan throughout their stay. The program started April 12, 2021, and will end March 31, 2022.
Nexus Shelter moves to 24/7
The Cohort Independent Living Pilot Program has also opened up beds in the Nexus shelter and created the opportunity to make the Nexus Shelter 24/7. Since April 12, 2021, the Nexus shelter is open day and night for drop-in youth. For the first time in Edmonton, youth have a safe, youth-worker supported place to sleep during the day. To accommodate day space at the shelter, it has changed capacity from 24 to 16 beds, with 2 staff. The intention is to keep the Nexus shelter 24/7 and improve the process as we learn what is needed.