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Roots for Youth aims to offer affordable housing for youth

Program director Stacey Dlamini is pictured outside one of the homes Roots For Youth will be using for transitional housing.
Program director Stacey Dlamini is pictured outside one of the homes Roots For Youth will be using for transitional housing.

NEW GLASGOW – Pictou County Roots For Youth is taking the next step in addressing homelessness.

The organization, which already operates an emergency shelter for people ages 16 to 24 as well as daily drop-in sessions and other programs, will soon offer affordable housing for youth at risk of homelessness.

“We think that safe and affordable housing is something that we ought to do as a community for the youth of our community. If we want them to stay here as we say we do, then we need to make it affordable for them to live,” program director Stacey Dlamini said.

When someone stays at Roots House, they’re there no longer than 10 weeks, Dlamini said, but in transitional housing, they’re able to stay up to a year.

Dlamini said when they’re helping young people find somewhere to live after they leave their shelter, it’s difficult to find safe and affordable options.

She’s seen people on social assistance spending 87 per cent of their income on rent and doesn’t think that’s sustainable.

“This is the next step. If we’re serious about ending homelessness in our community, this has to happen.”

Roots For Youth received $11,650 from the Aberdeen Health Foundation’s Children’s Aid Society Endowment Fund for the pilot project.

Robyn Eaton, chair of the Children’s Aid Endowment Committee of the Aberdeen Health Foundation, said this project is a great fit for funding through the Children’s Aid Endowment of the Aberdeen Health Foundation, which supports projects that enhance the potential for healthy outcomes for children, youth, and families in Pictou County.

“The Health Foundation is pleased to be a funding partner as RFY builds their capacity to help. They are a caring, compassionate group, and expanding their reach is good news for Pictou County,” she said.

They’ll be offering housing to six young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who are at imminent risk of homelessness, which Dlamini said is a person spending more than 50 per cent of their monthly income on rent.

The rent the residents have to pay is based on their income and won’t exceed 30 per cent of that amount.

Roots For Youth is leasing two houses on Temperance Street in New Glasgow, one for young men and one for young women, each with four bedrooms – one of which will be for a peer support worker. Their role will be to ensure residents are following the rules of the agreement – no drugs or alcohol, no overnight guests, and keeping the home clean.

Having them in that part of New Glasgow offers access to many nearby amenities and services, Dlamini said.

Dlamini said youth who come through Roots House will have priority as potential residents, but any young person can apply. She also noted they’re looking for donations of good, quality furniture.

Provided all goes well in the first year, Dlamini wants to seek additional funding to sustain the transitional housing and eventually expand the program.

“I see us operating multiple homes and having more space for young people to just kind of have a buffer where they can take that year and get themselves in a job or in an educational opportunity, to have that safe space where they can start to think about the future. Because when you’re in survival mode, as many of our youth are, it’s difficult to think about what the future looks like,” she said.

“You’re not there in your mind. You’re trying to figure out … what does today look like? What am I going to eat today? So this is a safe space to be able to start to think about a plan for your tomorrow.”

Dlamini is hoping to have youth move into the houses starting Aug. 1.

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