Outcomes Matter: Housing + Jobs= Success for MY House Youth

Contributed by Michelle Overstreet

My House offers transitional housing for young adults age 18-24.  With a grant from Alaska Housing for one 4 bedroom housing unit, we ask our residents to pay rent for their housing, and by doing so we were able to leverage one housing unit into three, so we have housing for 15 clients rather than 5.  

Rules for the house are clear:  Everybody pays rent.  Everybody has to have a job.  No drugs or alcohol allowed, period.  We reserve the right to search rooms and drug test at any time.  Nobody is allowed at the house between 10am and 4pm unless working a night shift and sleeping during the day.  If clients are not working, then they are expected to be out doing community service.  There are NO visitors allowed, period. Violating this rule will get you evicted.  This is for the safety of our clients who are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault, or those who have been trafficked. 

When they pay rent, clients earn a rental history that allows us to become a reference for more permanent housing when they are ready to transition out.  It also encourages them to adopt a budget for their income and prepare for using at least a third of their income for housing.  . 

Our housing case manager who comes and goes from housing, is able to offer rides at certain times of the day and monitor what is going on when not present through the use of security cameras that can be monitored on cell phones.  While this may sound invasive, it is a safety feature that is appreciated by many residents.  We are grateful to Northern Industrial Technology for the donation of the security cameras and monitoring system, and to Valkyrie Security for donating the installation and software to monitor.

So far, we have housed 44 individuals overall.  We have had 19 successful transitions and ALL those clients are still in safe and sustainable housing!  There are 10 clients still in housing, and five who left but returned-usually after getting clean and sober.  We have had 14 total evictions, which were due to substance abuse issues (8), mental health issues (2), both mental health and substance abuse issues (3) and one went back to jail.  Nine of the 14 who were evicted were successfully referred for services to help with the challenges that caused the eviction. 

Of the clients successfully transitioning: Two left housing to attend college, and three went to Job Corps for continued training.  Two clients currently in housing are attending college, and almost all are in training programs of some kind and completing high school or a GED equivalent.

With 29 of the total 44 having success at “adulting” with regard to housing, education and job training goals being met, we feel like the first year has been successful!

Thank you Alaska Housing, Northern Industrial Training and Valkyrie Security!  We are so proud to have your partnership!