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Finding Home — Rights of Passage

“Having worked in the health and social services field for the majority of my career, I can resolutely say that the connection between housing and a person’s health is incredibly strong: you simply cannot have good health without a home. Housing is so much more than having a roof over one’s head: it represents stability, safety, comfort, and hope.”

– Deb Lester, CEO, Covenant House Vancouver

The Reality of Living in Vancouver

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development now ranks Canada as having the most expensive housing market among all other G7 countries.

A recent rental report states that the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Metro Vancouver is $2,406. The City of Vancouver’s cost is even higher, at an average of $2,849 per month. As a result, most young people who move out on their own find themselves sharing their residence with numerous unfamiliar roommates, a situation that is often marked by unreliability and frequent turnover — and they often still must pay over $1,000 per month for a room.

Government supports, such as income assistance and disability benefits, fall significantly short of bridging the gap between youth’s needs and the average cost of rent. The difference between these inadequate resources and the actual cost of living only deepens the struggles faced by those we are committed to assisting.

For example: the maximum amount an individual can receive per month from income assistance is $610, and the maximum amount an individual can receive per month from disability assistance is $983.50.

Adding to the complexity of this issue are the unique barriers that youth experiencing homelessness encounter. From grappling with trauma, abuse, and mental health challenges, to growing up in foster care, to discrimination based on race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and ethnicity.

Rights of Passage

Rights of Passage (ROP) is CHV’s program that provides youth with safe, affordable housing and support, while they transition to independent living.

In addition to guidance, structure, and support, CHV 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 Case Management
  • Life skills (cooking, money management, self-care, communication skills and goal setting)
  • Support for youth to maintain employment and/or develop an education plan
  • Recreational opportunities
  • Women-only residential spaces

ROP’s self-contained units offer both a home and a community, where youth can experience autonomy and security. The program 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, standing as pillars of unwavering support.

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 (reduced) rent, communicating with a building manager, and for the most part, living independently. At the end of their stay in a Hollyburn suite, youth can take the furnishings that have been provided with them, and the rent they’ve paid is given back to them as a nest egg to pay the deposit at their next residence. A similar financial model — mock renting — is used in the ROP program.

Exciting news! ROP is expanding. Prior to the current renovation of our Pender Street 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.

Despite the challenges of inflation and the housing affordability crisis, youth are still making successful transitions from ROP to independent living. None of this would be possible without the amazing support from our community.

If you would like to donate to CHV and help support youth on their journeys, we have great news! Our Triple Match Campaign is on now! Bryan and Kim James understand how important it is to meet every youth’s needs. It gives us great pleasure to announce that, for the second year in a row, Bryan and Kim will be matching donations in our Triple Match Campaign.

Every dollar that you donate, during this campaign, will be matched to triple your impact.

But hurry. This campaign ends on December 31stDonate today!