Finding Independence at Covenant House Vancouver

Navigating the path towards independent living is a difficult journey; one that is overloaded with obstacles for youth experiencing homelessness. Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) recognizes the multi-faceted nature of these challenges and has developed a wraparound approach to ensure that young people can not only find housing, but also maintain it successfully. At the heart of CHV’s initiatives are our innovative, highly effective and supportive housing programs, like the Rights of Passage (ROP) program.  

Rights of Passage is a comprehensive housing and life-skills program that supports youth who wish to transition to more independent living and achieve their educational and vocational goals. Through ROP, we provide youth with safe, affordable housing and support while they prepare to transition to independent living. To move into ROP, youth must complete an application and, when approved, commit to at least one year in residence, while advancing their education, their employment, or both. Those who start and commit to the program, enter an environment where they have guidance, structure, and support. 

While in ROP, youth live in their own studio-style apartments, sharing a kitchen and common space with other residents. Dedicated social workers, youth workers, mentors and a life skills coordinator provide one-to-one support to each young person. These expert staff help guide youth, as they gradually work through a series of six steps, each of which increases levels of personal development and responsibility. When a youth reaches the sixth step in the program, they begin to plan their graduation from ROP with the help of staff. 

ROP provides: 

• A fully furnished, private apartment up to a youth’s 25th birthday 
• 24-hour staff support
• Daily and community dinners, light groceries, and celebrations 
• Individualized goal setting and action plans with a social worker
Life skills training, such as time management, budgeting, and cooking 
• Support to help maintain employment and/or to develop an education plan 
Recreational and wellness opportunities 
• Self-identified female-only supported housing spaces 
Housing transition planning for those approaching age 25 

Excitingly, ROP, our supportive independent living program, is expanding. Prior to the current renovation of our Pender building, ROP housed up to 25 youth at one time. Once the renovation is completed in early 2024, ROP will gradually expand and welcome up to 44 youth. ROP’s self-contained units offer not only a home, but a community, where youth can experience autonomy and security, which provides a nurturing environment for youth to work on their educational pursuits, career aspirations, health and wellness. Our dedicated youth workers and social workers are available 24/7, as unwavering pillars of support for youth. 

In addition to our on-site housing programs, we also have a partnership with Hollyburn Properties, who provide three fully-furnished apartments to youth from the ROP program. Youth can live in a Hollyburn suite for up to 12 months, where they practice skills like applying for an apartment, paying rent, communicating with a building manager, and for the most part, living independently.  

At the end of their stay in the ROP program youth will get back the sum of the rent they’ve paid as a nest egg for them as they begin their independent living. 

After graduating, youth can still access support from CHV. Staff follow up with graduates at regular intervals of three, six, nine, and 12 months after they have moved out on their own. 

Youth who are residing in our on-site housing programs and the Hollyburn program, as well as those from the community who utilize our Drop-In Centre and Outreach services, have access to a full range of services such as recreation, art therapy, counselling, case management, and a wide range of life skills supports.  

At CHV, every youth we welcome can find a helping hand when it comes to housing. Our array of housing-focused services is as diverse as the individuals we support. We help by: 

  • Evaluating a young person’s readiness for housing 
  • Offering guidance through BC Housing applications 
  • Lending a hand in housing searches and accompanying youth to property viewings 
  • Advocating for youth with prospective landlords and acting as a reference 
  • Providing transportation on moving day via our trusty van 
  • Ensuring essential household items are ready upon their move 
  • Aiding in budgeting and grocery planning, 
  • Navigating interactions with landlords and explaining housing bylaws. 

Our dedicated housing workers, life skills workers, and community transition workers are just a call or text away, ready to answer any query, no matter how big or small, that the youth might have. 

CHV’s commitment to youth extends far beyond providing a roof over their heads. It’s a holistic approach that addresses the full spectrum of a young person’s needs. From enhancing essential life skills to fostering educational pursuits and improving employment readiness, our comprehensive approach is designed to empower youth with the tools they need to thrive independently. 

Learn more about our Rights of Passage program and how you can get involved.