Host a Youth

Homelessness is a Cycle

Without a permanent address, it's hard for someone experiencing homelessness to get a job. It can be hard to get a shower, have clean clothes, dress appropriately for work, and get enough sleep. It can even be hard to get a bank account. Traumatic experiences are common.

Even if they get a job, it can take at least a month to obtain housing. They have to wait to get paid, save up enough money for first/last/security deposit, and go through the application process. They may not have access to reliable transportation. Imagine trying to hold down a job for a month in these circumstances and you can see how hard it can be to break the cycle of homelessness.

Providing a youth with short-term stable housing allows them to focus on things like getting a job, saving money for housing, and learning independent living skills without having to worry about having a safe place to sleep or food to eat.

Why transitional aged youth?

We believe that the best time to help youth is before they’ve experienced long-term homelessness, but the next best time is now. Youth who benefit from early interventions need less support and are less likely to experience homelessness again. This is why our work is focused on helping transitional aged youth ages 18-24.

Supporting our community

Home Grown's goal is to provide culturally-responsive housing options for homeless youth within the community. We do this by recruiting, training, and supporting community members who are willing to share their homes and "host" a youth for 3-12 months. Home Grown believes our community is strongest when we share our resources from the perspective of "us and us" and not "us vs. them".

Why Host a Youth?

  • Make a difference in a youth's life. Can you imagine being out on the streets at 18? Opening your home to a youth in need is a powerful way to help end the cycle of homelessness.
  • End the stigma of homelessness. Most homeless youth are homeless through no fault of their own. By labeling them as "homeless," our society marginalizes and alienates homeless youth. By hosting a homeless youth, you can help change the conversation, break down these barriers, and bring our community together.
  • Make oour community stronger. We believe in community members helping community members.
  • Start a lifelong relationship. Hosts don't just open their homes to youth in need—they also open their hearts. Be a mentor and forge a life-long relationship that will help a youth long after they've "graduated" from Home Grown.

Become a Host

Hosting is hard, but rewarding work. Becoming a host home is a big commitment, but can be a life-changing experience for both the host and the youth. It is important that the host works to build a trusting relationship with the youth. Hosts commit to hosting youth for a stay of 3-12 months (length of stay varies based on each youth's needs). While staying in the host home, youth no longer need to worry about having a safe place to sleep or food to eat, so they can then focus on improving their independent living skills, save-up extra income, and search for long-term housing.

Our program pairs transition-aged youth (ages 18-24) with hosts. Matches are made based on shared values, interests, and lifestyles and will offer youth the chance to develop lasting, meaningful, and supportive relationships. Hosts and youth will meet to discuss their hopes for the program, and create a housing agreement that includes house rules and expectations, before the youth decides to move in.

Hosts will receive regular support during the youth's stay in their home, including training, regular check-ins, and emergency support when needed. Hosts can also receive a voluntary financial stipend (based on availability) to help offset the additional cost of increased utilities and food for youth.

To find out if hosting is the right fit for you, please look at the list of our host home values here. We find that applicants who align with our values are a good fit to be hosts for our program.

Change the life of a youth experiencing homelessness in your community by becoming a host today!

Host Responsibilities

  • Youth don't pay rent or utilities, but Home Grown can provide a monthly stipend to help offset the additional expenses incurred by a host (subject to availability).
  • You need a private bedroom for the youth—ideally furnished, but we may be able to get furniture donated if not.
  • You provide the youth with healthy meals and food.
  • You provide a safe, respectful, and culturally-sensitive environment for the youth.
  • You are a mentor to the youth—not a parent! The youth in our program are all adults, and they need to learn how to make their own decisions. Give them guidance as a mentor would, but always respect a youth’s autonomy and the decisions they make, even if you don't agree with them.
  • You also need to be at least 25 years old yourself, be willing to go through a background check, participate in our training, and a few more things. See the Host Application for more information.

Hear From Former Hosts and Youth

Home Grown may be a new non-profit for Humboldt County, but host home programs have been around for a while now. Click here to hear from former youth and hosts in other host home programs around the US to see what their experiences were like.

You can also read one host’s story here.

I’m not the right fit to host, but my friend is, how can I share this information?

If you believe in the mission of Home Grown, but can't host yourself, please share about our program with your community through conversations or on social media. We're happy to talk to anyone interested in learning more. It is only through the spirit of solidarity that we are able to match youth with culturally responsive housing in their community.

More Questions?

Still have questions? Find our answers to frequently asked questions here or reach out to Joann Taijala at [email protected] or +1 (707) 502-2228 for more information.

Next Steps

  • Become a host or respite host: Home Grown is currently recruiting hosts for our host home program. We are also recruiting respite hosts, who would be willing to have a young person in their home for one to two weeks at a time. Let us know what one is the right fit for you!
  • Learn more about our program by attending an upcoming host home information session, or by contacting Joann Taijala at [email protected] or +1 (707) 502-2228.

The following criteria need to be met for an applicant to become a host in our program. Participation of applicants can be terminated at any point during the screening process if program staff believes they are not qualified or ready to be a host volunteer. Applicants must be committed to working with youth in the program to create a healthy and trusting relationship and provide a supportive environment. Applicants must also:

  • Have an extra bedroom (providing privacy) for the youth
  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Live in Humboldt County
  • Complete the application form, providing any relevant information
  • Have renter/homeowner’s insurance, providing a file copy if requested
  • Provide three references
  • Authorize and pass background checks
  • Complete necessary interviews
  • Complete the initial training session

The application process will include:

Potential hosts must complete the application process which includes paperwork, two interviews, background checks, and attend our host trainings. Which will equip hosts with knowledge of positive youth development, trauma and resiliency, appropriate boundary setting and effective communication techniques. Trainings are currently completed online, due to COVID-19.

Hosts will also receive ongoing coaching and crisis intervention support as needed.

To learn more about the training, contact Joann Taijala at [email protected] or +1 (707) 502-2228.

We've adjusted our program to keep you and youth safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting with conducting out host training online. We are also taking additional precautions when matching youth and hosts during the pandemic. We developed some shared agreements for hosts and youth during the COVID-19 outbreak. The purpose of this is to make sure that both youth and hosts have information and a framework to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contagion.

Click here for responses to our FAQs.

If you're interested in learning more or have questions about the program, please contact Joann Taijala at [email protected] or +1 (707) 502-2228.