You Just Sign a Lease and That’s It, Right?

Residential Lease Agreement

1. Parties in this agreement: Homeless Young Person & Landlord
2. Property address: TBD
3. Deposit: Unknown
Document introduction:

For most of us, it doesn’t seem all that complicated to get housing. You figure out how much you can afford, look at different places, and make a choice. You just sign a lease, and that’s it, right?

 

Well, not right - at least if you’re one of the hundreds of Indianapolis youth who are homeless. For them, it’s far more complicated, and that is why Outreach’s work is so critical. It’s also why we’re excited to share with you that we have helped 11 young people get stable housing since January! That may not seem like a lot at first, but when you learn what it takes to make that happen, we know you’ll recognize what an achievement that represents! To paint a clearer picture of what is involved with helping young people secure housing, we’re going to debunk five myths about youth homelessness, with information provided by Outreach Caseworker, Sarah Doak.

You Just Sign a Lease and That’s It, Right?

Residential Lease Agreement

1. Parties in this agreement: Homeless Young Person & Landlord
2. Property address: TBD
3. Deposit: Unknown
Document introduction:

For most of us, it doesn’t seem all that complicated to get housing. You figure out how much you can afford, look at different places, and make a choice. You just sign a lease, and that’s it, right?

 

Well, not right - at least if you’re one of the hundreds of Indianapolis youth who are homeless. For them, it’s far more complicated, and that is why Outreach’s work is so critical. It’s also why we’re excited to share with you that we have helped 11 young people get stable housing since January! That may not seem like a lot at first, but when you learn what it takes to make that happen, we know you’ll recognize what an achievement that represents! To paint a clearer picture of what is involved with helping young people secure housing, we’re going to debunk five myths about youth homelessness, with information provided by Outreach Caseworker, Sarah Doak.

Myth #1: It’s easier to get government support for housing if you’re young.

Being approved for government housing support is complicated. The first step is completing a questionnaire with the unpronounceable name, VI-SPDAT, which measures how vulnerable an applicant is, how long he/or she has been homeless, and

You Just Sign a Lease and That’s It, Right?

Residential Lease Agreement

1. Parties in this agreement: Homeless Young Person & Landlord
2. Property address: TBD
3. Deposit: Unknown
Document introduction:

For most of us, it doesn’t seem all that complicated to get housing. You figure out how much you can afford, look at different places, and make a choice. You just sign a lease, and that’s it, right?

 

Well, not right - at least if you’re one of the hundreds of Indianapolis youth who are homeless. For them, it’s far more complicated, and that is why Outreach’s work is so critical. It’s also why we’re excited to share with you that we have helped 11 young people get stable housing since January! That may not seem like a lot at first, but when you learn what it takes to make that happen, we know you’ll recognize what an achievement that represents! To paint a clearer picture of what is involved with helping young people secure housing, we’re going to debunk five myths about youth homelessness, with information provided by Outreach Caseworker, Sarah Doak.

Myth #1: It’s easier to get government support for housing if you’re young.

Being approved for government housing support is complicated. The first step is completing a questionnaire with the unpronounceable name, VI-SPDAT, which measures how vulnerable an applicant is, how long he/or she has been homeless, and

 

whether or not they have a disability. It asks questions such as “Have you ever been robbed since experiencing homelessness?” and “Is your homelessness the result of an abusive relationship?” Applicants are ranked, and those with the highest scores are given first opportunity for housing support when it becomes available. This system actually works against young persons who are homeless, because their “chronicity” score is lower than that of an older person who has been on the streets for several years. One bright spot in this dark situation comes from our partners at Adult & Child Health. This summer, they received a grant to help provide housing specifically for persons 18-24 years of age. Since June of this year, 14 youth have been determined to be eligible for Adult & Child’s Youth Rapid Rehousing Program. Some are still waiting on documentation, one got an apartment on her own, and one moved to Chicago. Three have been housed and one is very close to moving in soon!

Myth #2: A person who is homeless can apply for housing support on their own.

Applicants are required to have an organization such as Outreach verify and document that they are homeless and have been so for a specified period of time. Our caseworkers visit abandoned houses, homeless camps, and shelters, talking with neighbors and shelter staff to verify how long our youth have been living at different sites. Simply keeping track of these details is a daunting task, but it is one of the most important jobs that our caseworkers have. Applicants also have to provide identification, so Outreach maintains a safe on-site where youth can store their licenses, birth certificates, and other vital records that could easily be lost or stolen on the street. Without this documentation, youth cannot qualify for government support. With it, we can advocate for our youth and help them find stable housing.

 

Myth #3: Once you get government support for housing, you don’t have to pay anything.

There are several different governmental programs, and all require the applicant to pay some portion of their rent and utilities. The Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) program, which targets the most chronically and disabled individuals who are homeless, requires its recipients to pay up to 30% of their rent and utilities if they have any income at all.

 

Myth #4: If young people are “couch surfing,” at least they’re safe.

Couch surfing, or the practice of staying temporarily in many different locations, exposes young people to many risks. Often, many other people – many of them strangers - are “crashing” in the same house or apartment, and our youth have reported being robbed or sexually preyed upon in these settings. One young woman told us that her bank card was stolen while she was couch surfing, and she blamed herself. “I left my purse out,” she said. “I knew I shouldn’t have. I usually sleep on it.” Paradoxically, couch surfing counts against a homeless youth on the VI-SPDAT, because it is not considered “being homeless” by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

Myth #5: Once a person gets into stable housing, they don’t need help from Outreach.

Getting into housing is just the first step toward self-sufficiency. Our caseworkers and volunteer staff provide a wide range of supportive services to help youth make the transition to living independently in secure housing. We work with partners at Mustard Seed Ministries and a generous Outreach donor to help two youth per month get basic household furniture. We help our youth plan a budget for household expenses and make a schedule for paying bills, and we help them apply for SNAP benefits (food stamps). We provide simple apartment kits with basic cleaning supplies and toiletries. We stay in relationship with our youth to help them deal with the loneliness they often experience when they leave the community of people they knew on the street. We continue to help them secure employment, finish their education, and set goals. We walk beside them as they envision and build new futures for themselves.

 

Signature:

Even with all of these challenges, Outreach continues to help young people get off the streets and into stable housing, but we can only do it because of the support you provide. Thank you for making a difference for the youth of Indianapolis who are working to build a better life.

Author:

Gigi Nicholas www.thegiftedword.com

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office line: 317-951-8886    press "2" for front desk

email: info@outreachindiana.org
office address2416 E New York Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201
mail: P.O. Box 11416, Indianapolis, IN 46201