What are Host Homes and Who is Eligible?

Last updated: August 11, 2022, at 2:46 p.m. PT

Originally published: July 28, 2021, at 12:42 p.m. PT

Host family with young adult

The YMCA Host Homes program matches young people ages 12-24 who are at risk of experiencing homeless with hosts in the community who can provide the space and opportunity youth need to build independent living skills, gain stability, and focus on goal attainment. The program is youth-driven and our case management support caters to youths’ expressed needs and goals. Host Homes is a 6-month transitional housing program and the team focuses especially on youths’ housing transition plans as they reach the end of their stay in their Host Home. 

Traditional Host Homes vs Kinship Host Homes

There are two different embedded programs within the Host Homes model: Traditional Host Homes and Kinship Host Homes. Each program has unique eligibility requirements, as well as some overlap. Traditional Host Homes matches young adults (ages 18-24) with hosts in the community who have a spare bedroom. Traditional hosts are community members the youth has not previously met. In the Kinship program, youth and young adults are eligible (ages 12-24). In this model, the young person already has a relationship with the host they identify. The Kinship host may be a family member (who is not a legal guardian or foster parent), a positive community member, mentor, etc. 

Kinship Program Eligibility

  • Ages 12-24. If under 18, the youth will need notarized permission from a legal parent, guardian, or adult with Power of Attorney
  • Resides in King County
  • Currently experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of homelessness (within 14 days)
  • Third party verification of homelessness required in the form of a letter from a case manager, social worker, therapist, relative confirming housing instability status

Traditional Program Eligibility 

  • Ages 18-24
  • Resides in King County 
  • Currently homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness (within 14 days)
  • Third party verification of homelessness required in the form of a letter from a case manager, social worker, therapist, relative confirming housing instability status

Additional Host Homes Eligibility Considerations

Host Homes is a unique, low barrier transitional housing opportunity for youth and young adults in King County. Youth are not required to take a King County Coordinated Entry for All (CEA) housing assessment as an eligibility requirement. We do conduct background checks on all participants and hosts who apply to be in the program. A legal record will not necessarily preclude eligibility for participants. The Host Homes team will work collaboratively with youth who have legal records to determine if there are appropriate and compatible hosts available. 

Additionally, youth who apply to be in the Host Homes program should be able to communicate consistently, as the program case manager conducts virtual or in-person check-ins on a weekly basis. We also ask that participants stay in regular contact with their hosts and communicate when they plan to be away from the house. Ideally, program candidates are also able to identify their housing goals for after the program, as the program is a short 6-months. 

How to apply for the program

If you are interested in becoming a Host Home, learn about the steps to becoming a host home or fill out this form to contact us and start the process.

If you’re a youth or young adult who is interested in a applying to be in the Host Homes program (or a case manager applying for a youth), just follow these steps:

  1. Contact us here to start the process.
  2. Participate in a phone screening to determine if you’re eligible for the program 
  3. Note, at any given time, the number of available program hosts varies. During the screening call, we will communicate which hosts are currently available and whether we think they may be a compatible fit with your expressed needs. 
  4. Submit the required application documents
  5. A meet and greet will be scheduled for all parties if a possible host is identified by the youth and case manager, a. This provides hosts and youth an opportunity to ask each other questions and determine if everyone is comfortable moving forward. 
  6. If the youth and hosts have agreed to move forward, the youth’s move-in may be scheduled after the meet and greet.

If you have any additional questions about the program, please do not hesitate to reach out to contact us. We are looking forward to hearing from you!