Helping young people reach independent living

Female-YouthSalt Lake County Division of Youth Services recognizes that there are many young adults facing homelessness in Salt Lake County. This is especially true for young adults that have aged out of Foster Care.

In an effort to aid homeless young adults, in 2012, Youth Services reopened the Milestone Transitional Living Program. Our program serves homeless young adults ages 18-21. Our philosophy is that by assisting our clients with a place to stay, we are reducing the barriers to learning independent living. With the need for shelter met our clients are able to focus on self-sufficiency goals by securing or maintaining employment, learning life skills, budgeting, pursuing their education, and building positive relationships with peers, staff and community partners.

Through our partnership with the Utah Youth Mentor Project (UYMP), Milestone participants are paired with a volunteer mentor. We also contract with UYMP to provide life skills workshops to our clients. Some of the workshop topics include conflict management, budgeting, healthy eating, and college preparation.

Participants of our program are also assigned to a Case Manager that helps them with meeting individual goals and maintaining program compliance. Our staff also assists with job searching, education, transportation, counseling, and building a support network. And by utilizing the variety of services and partner agencies Youth Services works with we can refer our clients to meet their needs.

Currently our program has two homes, one for young adult males, and one for young adult females. Our home for males is secured through our partnership with the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church who owns the house. The home can accommodate five participants and each has their own room for privacy. A common kitchen, living and dining room, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are shared. Due to the community living aspect of the house, for safety, security, and support, we have a part time live in House Manager.

Our home for females is secured through our partnership with the Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake. It is a 4-plex building with two one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. The building can accommodate six female clients. Due to the separated living spaces we currently do not have live in staff at this home.

We do charge Program Fees to the participants. Our fees begin at a minimal level based on the location and size of the room or apartment where they will be staying which is usually $100. The fee increases by $50 every three months. This is an effort to get participants used to paying bills and adjusting their budget accordingly. All money paid by the participant is placed into an internal savings account for them that they will receive when they exit the program. Participants are able to earn some of this money back early by reaching milestones in their life such as obtaining employment, getting their GED, or Diploma.

Since our opening in 2012 we have developed a new piece to our program called Milestone Plus. We were fortunate enough to have been given two housing vouchers that we’re able to award to two of our clients that have demonstrated positive strides in our program but could still use some support. This voucher enables the participant to have their own apartment for one year within the community. The participant pays 30% of their income as their rent and the voucher pays the remaining market value. Our program continues to provide Case Management and support to these clients as they continue to progress to independent living.

It is a reality that some young adults end up homeless due to having a falling out with family, running away, or exiting Foster Care. Through the efforts of our program and the efforts of our partners, we can help these young people gain the knowledge, build skills, make a plan and transition to independent living.

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About Anthony Martinez

I have worked with children, youth and young adults since 2001 in the education and human services fields. I began my work with the Division of Youth Services in 2006. My current job is to support young adults in our Milestone Transitional Living program. I also am part of the team that provides training in life skills, leadership and employment to youth/young adults in the Salt Lake Valley.
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