Being a young adult, preparing to set out into the world is challenging at the best of times. There are decisions to make about educational paths, housing and employment. Many young adults have support systems (whether it’s parents and/or extended family members) to help them through.
But for the 700 young adults aging out of foster care every year, which happens at age 19 in B.C., the challenges are even more dire. Along with a roster of social barriers, youth aging out of foster care often don’t have networks that can facilitate access to rental housing, such as parents who can act as guarantors to sign leases. “You don’t have any of the main things a landlord on a screening application would require, and you’re trying to compete with people who do,” says Christina Grammenos, Community Engagement Coordinator for Aunt Leah’s Place, a charity organization that for 30 years has been dedicated to preventing youth homelessness.
To answer this need, in 2016 Aunt Leah’s Place created the Friendly Landlord Network, a web portal which connects young adults age 19 to 30 who are looking to live in safe, affordable housing with community-minded landlords.
The online system, which acts as an internal market for youth and non-profits around the Lower Mainland representing young adults, allows landlords to post information about available housing. “We can post the unit up on the (site) and that way through the 19 partner organizations, someone is going to have a young adult who fits the location and price range and style of unit, so we can find a good fit,” Grammenos explains.
Along with supporting youth through their house-hunting process, the Friendly Landlord Network also provides support to landlords including guidance on tenancy rights and responsibilities. The organization also commits to doing a physical check-in once a month for the first six months.
While a number of youth have found long-term housing through the network, Grammenos says, “We’d really like to get more private landlords, more property managers and building owners.”
Once stable housing is secured, the doors open to other possibilities for youth. As Brendan, 21, who has found a home through the Friendly Landlord Network puts it: “To me, having a home represents stability. You can't do anything if you're constantly worrying about where you'll sleep this month, this week, or even today. A nice home is the foundation for all future aspirations to succeed.”
For more information, visit the website.