The program and the people behind the THRIVE! Host Home Network have a deep commitment to our communities, our youth and social change – not just through the sharing of resources, but through a transformative process of sharing our homes. We are thrilled to invite you into this partnership.
Short-term host homes, found throughout North America, are an intervention for youth who are currently experiencing homelessness for any variety of reasons, including but not limited to family conflict, poverty, gender identity and sexual orientation. Research and success stories elsewhere demonstrate that homeless youth can benefit greatly from youth-specific interventions in a setting safe from the hazards of housing instability. Age-appropriate shelter and services are critical in protecting the vulnerability of homeless youth. For these youth, a stable residence is the beginning of addressing larger life shaping issues and gaining stability.
Eligibility and Expectations
The following criteria needs to be successfully completed in order for an applicant to be qualified as a host. Applicants need to demonstrate a strong commitment to work with youth to build a healthy and trusting relationship, an ability to provide a safe, decent, sanitary, stable and supportive environment and consistently demonstrate skills necessary to meet program objectives.
- Have an extra bedroom (providing privacy) for the youth.
- Be at least 25 years old.
- Have lived in Frederick County for at least a year.
- Complete the application form, providing all relevant information.
- Have renter/homeowner's insurance, and provide a file copy.
- Provide three personal references.
- Authorize and pass background checks.
- Complete necessary interviews.
- Complete training sessions.
Questions To Think About
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the rules of your home?
Think about sharing your living space with a youth you don’t know very well. Think about the rules and expectations that will be important for that person to know (i.e. no phone calls after 10 pm). The youth moving in will also have rules of his/her own (i.e. knock before you enter).
What are your expectations of the youth while he/she/they live with you?
The THRIVE! Host Home Network is an opportunity for the youth to live in a safe and healthy environment while they work on self-determined goals (i.e. attending/finishing high school, getting their GED, securing a job, learning a skill or trade, paying rent). The youth and their case manager will develop a plan with clear goals that everyone formally agrees to (the youth, the hosts, the case manager, and the program administrator).
What is your financial commitment to this youth?
With the support of SHIP, hosts will be responsible for providing food for this youth for the duration of their stay. Aside from food and a safe home, you will not be responsible for other expenses. Staff will work with you on setting appropriate boundaries around expenses.
Is your living space ready for a young person?
The youth must have their own room or private space. That space should be clean when the youth moves in. A home visit will be conducted before accepted as a host volunteer.
Would you be open to sharing your home with an LGBTQ+ youth?
You would need to get acquainted with LGBTQ+ youth issues and explore your own feelings about sexual orientation and gender identity and learn to be able to talk about and deal with those issues. Talking about this will be part of the training.
Have you explored (personally or otherwise) issues such as white privilege and racism?
The majority of hosts in existing host home programs are white, whereas many of the homeless youth are of color. If you are white, it is extremely important that you become more aware of race, racism, and white privilege and the implications of living with that privilege. Talking about this will be part of the training.
Are you willing to put in some time to create a nurturing relationship with a youth?
Developing a trusting relationship with a youth may take some time and hard work. This may require you to be an active participant in that young person’s life (i.e. driving them places, helping with schoolwork, meeting with case manager).
Are you capable of living with a youth who may be working through difficult issues?
You need to be conscious that the young people who participate in the host home program will likely have experienced trauma. These issues will also be discussed during the training. Your role as a host is not to “rescue” youth, but to be an adult ally.
Training and Support
Applicants are required to attend 8 hours of training before being able to house a young person. Trainings are an integral part of the host home process, providing hosts with tools and resources to best support their young guests. This training will focus on topics such as LGBTQ+ 101; Race, Power & Privilege; Trauma & Resiliency; Youth Affirmation and more.
Subsequent trainings will be held a few times throughout the year to develop continuous support to our volunteer hosts, ensuring they have what they need in order to best support their youth guests. The topics of these subsequent trainings will be tailored to specific needs identified by volunteer hosts.
Once the application, background check, reference requests, home visit, interviews, and training are completed, interested parties will be invited to be hosts and join the THRIVE! Host Home Network!
Once a host is selected, host volunteers are matched with youth! SHIP’s THRIVE! program sees itself in part as a matchmaking agency, matching young people in need of stable housing with caring and nurturing adults who have the ability and want to provide short to mid-term housing. A thorough application process for host volunteers allows staff to facilitate a successful match for all.
Host and Guest Contract
A contract is completed at the initial match meeting between the young guests and host(s). The goal of this contract is to provide a forum through which hosts and guests can explicitly discuss expectations they have of each other as they prepare to begin their relationship. With the support of the THRIVE! program administrator, hosts and guests will collaboratively develop and come to an agreement around a set of norms that will be upheld during the course of the host stay. Outlining these communal agreements up-front will allow for a smoother transition into the host-guest relationship and ability to address concerns if they come up.
This contract can be revisited and revised at a later date if circumstances change.
The program administrator continues to provide support to hosts, while youth are being housed. The program administrator will conduct weekly or biweekly check-ins with the host families to ensure the match is comfortable for all participants. The program administrator will be available throughout the match to support any issues that may arise.
On-going support for hosts will be available through regular trainings and monthly social support groups. These meetings will provide hosts an opportunity to network and connect with other community members who are passionate about ending youth homelessness.
THRIVE! staff meet with the youth guests on a weekly basis to ensure they are adjusting well to their new home, as well as remaining on track to achieve their goals.