The Life We Deserve: A Model of Supportive Housing for Teen Families

The Need for Supportive Housing

The provision of safe and secure housing has been identified as a key factor in supporting the success of teen families (Corlyon & Stock, 2011). When parents and their children lack access to safe, secure, and affordable housing, families can become stuck in a cycle of poverty, with negative implications for healthy child development (Graham & McDermott, 2006). Teen parents often struggle to attain housing and, for many, it is an unaffordable luxury (Terra Talk Back Survey, 2015). This challenge is exacerbated by the stigma that surrounds teen parenting, which contributes to reluctance from many landlords to accept teen families as tenants (Graham & McDermott, 2006). This problem has become more pronounced due to housing shortages across Edmonton and other Canadian cities (Gaetz, Gulliver, & Richter, 2014) and has left a significant number of teens with few alternatives but to raise their children in unstable circumstances (Karabanow & Hughes, 2013). There is evidence to suggest that participation in supportive housing initiatives can result in significant benefits to people experiencing vulnerable circumstances (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Supportive housing is the provision of long-term, affordable, independent housing in combination with flexible, individualized, accessible supports (Rog et al., 2014). Despite the documented benefits of supportive housing, most approaches to Homeward Trust Final Report 2 homelessness have been emergency responses rather than preventative (Gaetz, 2013). However, preventative approaches that focus on the coordination of services and investment in supports can reduce the likelihood that young people and their children will become homeless in the first place (Gaetz, 2013). There is currently a limited understanding about the best forms of support that should be provided alongside housing (Kirsh et al., 2011). In addition, no model currently exists outlining the best ways to provide supportive housing for the specific needs of teen parents and their children.

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