Welcome! Thank you for your interest in participating in SHIP of Frederick County’s THRIVE! Host Home Network. The program and the people behind it have a deep commitment to our communities, our youth and social change – not just through the sharing of resources, but through a transformative and intimate process of sharing our home and our lives. We are thrilled to invite you into this partnership.
Learn more about the hosting experience through one of THRIVE!’s own.
We know from research that homeless youth are best served when they are able to remain in their communities where they are comfortable, have friends, attend school, and go to work. For this reason, the goal of the program is to recruit, screen, and provide support to volunteers in Frederick County who are willing to open their homes to young people ages 16 through 22 who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Being a host is a powerful and unique experience, and far from being easy. The commitment you are willing to make in order to be a host volunteer is an intense one, as is that of a youth who is moving into a host home. In turn, it will hopefully prove to be a gratifying and empowering experience for all.
Listen to the impactful experience from hosts and their youth guest in Minneapolis.
The hosting experience is new for many. We’ve compiled a list of frequently-asked questions from other hosts and other host home programs to help you along the way.
What is a host home?
The goal of short-term host homes is to provide a safe, temporary, welcoming space.
Short-term host homes are an intervention for youth who are currently experiencing homelessness for any variety of reasons, including but not limited to family conflict, poverty, gender identity and sexual orientation. The goal of short-term host homes is to provide a safe, temporary, welcoming space for up to six months where the young person has time to repair their relationships with self-identified family, or make decisions about other housing options with the support of a caring housing case manager and support system.
Host homes are currently being used in numerous cities across the United States. Each community uniquely implemented the host home program to fit the needs of their youth. As with any program implementation, there is a mix of messy and magical moments that define this housing intervention.
How does SHIP’s THRIVE! Host Home Network operate?
SHIP’s THRIVE! Host Home Network leverages existing resources to support youth, and the community of caring adults to help solve the crisis of youth homelessness in Frederick County. It is a community-driven model that connects young people (aged 18-24) with adults from their own communities who are willing to provide safe housing and support while the young person figures out their next steps. SHIP’s THRIVE! program staff work with the young person and hosts to make sure the process is supportive and stress-free.
THRIVE! upholds the values of youth choice and the youth’s right to self-determination, dignity, and respect. We seek volunteer hosts who uphold the values of inclusivity, affirming and compassionate care, and a commitment to be trauma-informed and supportive. Staff and hosts undergo regular training in order to become equipped with the tools and resources best suited to support the young guests during their stay.
What does it mean to have youth choice?
Youth choice is about affirming and acknowledging the fact that young people deserve to have the freedom to govern over their own lives and choices. Youth choice means having youth at the table and giving youth the power and freedom to choose the host they feel most suits them. Youth choice may mean empowering youth to make the choices they feel best empower them even if it differs from the choices or recommendations of supportive adults on staff. Ultimately, we believe it is most important that young people be their own agents of change and growth.
What are the typical expectations of hosts?
First and foremost, hosts are expected to provide a private room and space for their youth guests. It is in the best interest of the youth to be in an affirming, supportive environment where the youth has an opportunity to work on a longer-term housing plan as they seek future self-sufficiency. Hosts should provide a welcoming, stable, and secure living environment where the young person’s rights, privacy, and culture are respected.
Hosts typically do not parent, and rather work to develop a supportive relationship with their guest. Hosts are not expected to be actively involved in the case management and housing plan for the young person who they are hosting. SHIP’s THRIVE! program staff will develop individualized plans with each young person, and connect them to resources like longer-term housing, education and career support, and more community services while in the THRIVE! program.
Hosts are typically reimbursed for incremental utility and food costs while the youth is in the host household.
What are the expectations and rules of the household?
Hosts set their own house rules, and these will look different for different hosts. Youth guests will be expected to respect and abide by house rules.
What are the expectations and roles of the youth?
Young people will also have expectations for what makes them feel safe in the host home, and those are considered equally as important as the expectations of the host.
THRIVE! expects youth guests to be active participants during their host stay; being committed to taking charge of their own lives. THRIVE! expects youth to be enrolled in or working towards some sort of educational goal, and/or enrolled in a career development program. Youth are expected to maintain regular communication with host families, as well as with THRIVE! staff. The best forms of communication for all parties will be discussed during the application process and subsequent match meetings.
How does the program assist and support the youth?
THRIVE! recognizes the importance of youth having a safe, stable place to work on other elements of their life as they work towards self-sufficiency. These goals are self-determined, which they develop with the support of their case manager.
Through SHIP’s New Horizon counseling program, participating youth have access to comprehensive support including services related to healthcare and mental health needs, educational support, career development programs, food access, and other available resources. New Horizons and SHIP staff are skilled in navigating available resources to best support youth experiencing homelessness throughout Frederick County. These skills will be utilized to best support the young guests in the THRIVE! Host Home Network program as well.
As your relationship with a youth grows and deepens, so might your involvement re: goals/things they want to do. This is really up to the youth to decide. Oftentimes, hosts tend to almost never feel like the youth is working hard enough/fast enough/genuinely enough on said goals, regardless of how open-minded they are. The program will support and encourage you in managing your own
expectations and dealing with any frustrations that may arise.
We believe that youth should have autonomy over their own lives. It is important to remember that young people know best about what they need and want to do. Our role is to give a young person the necessary support to decide what activities to engage in. Many young people have lived in a limited world of choices; helping them to engage in new activities and ideas can open up many new experiences and opportunities for growth and maturity.
What are the protections and oversights that are in place to ensure that as best as can be—we have a safe, secure, and affirming environment for the youth in host homes?
The application process for hosts is a multi-stage process that first and foremost involves works to identify and understand the many facets and dynamics of the host home environment. With a thorough understanding of the household, coupled with a complete understanding of the youth. THRIVE! program staff are best positioned to make a positive “match” for the host family and youth. Prospective hosts will complete paperwork on their background, their views, their religious beliefs, their household rules, etc. Hosts will also be expected to pass a criminal background check. Hosts who express any degree of intolerance will not be admitted into the program, and hosts who fail the background check will not be able to participate.
Youth choice is central to the host home program. Youth will interview their potential host(s), do a walkthrough of their potential room in the home, and ultimately give the final decision on whether or not it’s a match for them. Before hosts are admitted into the program, they will undergo training through the program on topics such as LGBTQ+ 101; Race, Power & Privilege; Trauma & Resiliency; Youth Affirmation and more. The program will maintain close contact with hosts in addition to intensive case management with youth to navigate any conflict, and to ensure that host homes remain affirming and supportive spaces.
What if I want to be a host, but can’t commit to a longer term? Can I still host?
Yes! There are many housing needs in Frederick County, with many young people are in need of short-term placements. THRIVE! seeks volunteer hosts who are able to be emergency placements and/or relief hosts. Often times, a young person may need a short-term, emergency placement while other housing options are yet to be identified. Typically, an emergency host would be asked to host a young person for a period of 1 night – 3 weeks in this scenario.
A relief host might be a host who isn’t able to do full-time hosting but is be able to be a host to account for emergencies or a host going out of town, or they might be a host who has (more than one) room available.
With all scenarios, given prior approvals, a host home can serve throughout a variety of time frames or on a limited time basis.
What happens if a host has a vacation or needs to go out of town while hosting a youth?
In some instances, the young person and the host may feel comfortable with the young person being on their own while the host is out of town. Again, hosts are an important part of a host program, and can be available to temporarily host a young person while the primary host is out of town.
Are hosts expected to provide meals/transportation for youth? ransportation for youth? How involved are they expected to be?
We ask that hosts be able to provide at least 2 meals a day to youth. This does not mean a host needs to prepare meals for the young person, yet should have groceries available during the young person’s stay. Food preferences, allergies, and logistics will be discussed during the match meetings. Hosts may contribute more if they have the means and the time to provide more meals or more grocery support. THRIVE! can provide funding to cover the costs of food for the youth while the youth is a guest in the host home.
As for transportation — SHIP’s case managers will work with youth to make sure they have bus passes or public transportation access so they can navigate independently. Hosts may provide as much or as little transportation as they’d like based off their schedules and comfort. What is most important is to not promote codependent relationships. THRIVE! staff will work to ensure that youth are well connected to community resources, public transportation and more so that they can live freely and independently without depending on hosts or case managers for mobility and accessibility.
Youth in the program are also provided with a periodic stipend so that they have spending money of their own.
How are hosts and guests matched?
SHIP’s THRIVE! program sees itself in part as a matchmaking agency, matching young people in need of stable housing with caring and nurturing adults who have the ability and want to provide short to mid-term housing. A thorough application and review process for host volunteers allows staff to facilitate a successful match for all.
What kind of legal liability is there for the hosts?
SHIP of Frederick County maintain General Liability insurance coverage for all SHIP programming including the THRIVE! Home Home Network.
THRIVE! host homes are expected to maintain and keep in force Homeowners or Renters Insurance while participating in the program.
Youth staying for a period of time in a host home are considered to be non-paying guests. For this reason, the youth guest is generally covered by the Homeowners or Renters insurance. Volunteer host homes should check with their insurance provider for specific details to ensure that guests are properly protected in case of an emergency.
What if there’s conflict between hosts and youth?
Disagreements between hosts and youth can happen (as it does in any living situation of any kind). If conflict arises, THRIVE! staff takes the lead. Hosts contact the program administrator who will work with youth and hosts to navigate conflict, and make sure that both parties are equipped with conflict resolution skill sets and resources. Depending on the situation, staff might be able to mediate conflict and help ensure a smooth resolution. If the situation is more serious or contentious in nature, and a resolution cannot be reached, then the youth will be removed from the household.
As will be discussed in training, it’s important that hosts understand that the youth who they are hosting may have endured some form of trauma in their lives. Hosts should understand that some things that are perceived as behavioral issues or disrespectful might just be manifestations of trauma that can be navigated. Case managers and the program administrator will work to navigate any issues that arise. Regular meetings at the host’s home with the host and youth present will help to mitigate any issues by making sure that there is a consistent space to discuss how the living situation has been going, and what resources or tools are needed to continuously improve things.