Lighthouse Youth Services, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, prevents youth in child welfare from becoming homeless and prevents young adults in the adult shelter system from remaining homeless through their Independent Living and Transitional Living Programs. In 1981, Lighthouse developed a semi-supervised scattered-site apartment model based on the philosophy that young people learn best by "doing" and that youth should have opportunities to live on their own and develop self-sufficiency skills prior to discharge from care. The agency has served over 1000 youth in its model and averages around 80 youth a day living in their own apartments.
Lighthouse is committed to continuously educating public systems about the importance of giving youth opportunities to live on their own and the need for affordable housing at discharge. Lighthouse was successful in helping to change state codes to mandate Independent Living training for youth and to allow unsupervised living arrangements. County and city child welfare, mental health, and juvenile corrections systems were educated on the funding split between services for foster youth and homeless youth, demonstrating that corrections, mental health, and foster care cannot shift the responsibility of aftercare for their wards to the small and under-funded homeless youth assistance system. After years of advocating for a housing continuum that includes flexible, less restrictive living arrangements, many county and state care providers have bought into the model and subsequently, have provided funding to Lighthouse to serve system youth.
The Independent Living Programs targets foster youth and juvenile offenders between the ages of 16 and 19. The Transitional Living Program targets homeless youth between the ages of 18 and 25.
Sources of referral include child welfare, homeless shelters, juvenile courts, and various community-based organizations.
Lighthouse's Housing Continuum includes several housing options for youth: Scattered-Site Apartments, Supervised Apartments, Shared Homes (4-5 youth), Host homes, and boarding homes. Youth can move from more structured living arrangements to less restrictive living arrangements, depending on the level of support and services needed. Having a number of housing options allows the program to find a living arrangement that meets a youth's particular needs. If a young person does not succeed in living in his or her own in an apartment, they can be moved to other living arrangements until the right option is identified.
The desired outcomes for the Independent Living and Transitional Living Programs at Lighthouse include:
- Youth retain affordable housing at discharge, often taking over the lease of the apartment or accessing low-income housing.
- Youth experience living independently in their own apartment, learning budgeting, money management, and self-sufficiency skills.
- Youth have the opportunity to live in an area that is comfortable or familiar to youth, with easy access to transportation, shopping, and employment.
- Youth make connections with caring adults
- Youth are connected to adult community resources
Independent Living: Children's Services County Levy, per diem from referring agencies
Transitional Living: Federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Program (HHS), state and city grants, HUD, United Way, private donors, and client contribution.
Lighthouse Youth Services
Director of Self-Sufficiency Services
1501 Madison Rd. second floor
Cincinnati, OH, 45206