The Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address for Youth (NFA-Y) program run as a partnership between Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) and the Lawson Health Research Institute was recently recognized as an honourable mention for the third annual Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards

This blog will discuss what this initiative is, why it was designed, how it fills the gaps in preventing youth homelessness, and much more. 

About the initiative

The Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address for Youth (NFA-Y) program is a collaborative partnership between community agencies designed to prevent discharge to homelessness for youth aged 16-25. The program's primary objectives are twofold: 
To divert youth from homelessness when they are about to be discharged from the hospital.
To secure stable housing and financial support for them after discharge. 

The NFA-Y program prevents homelessness by linking youth with financial, educational, and housing assistance to eliminate the risk of homelessness following their discharge from the hospital. 

“A crucial aspect of this program is the ongoing connection between at-risk youth after discharge and community agency supports.” - Matthew Forget, Community Liaison for No Fixed Address for Youth, Youth Opportunities Unlimited

The NFA-Y program ensures that these young people not only receive housing upon leaving the hospital but also avoid a return to homelessness. It is important to note that this program is part of an initiative led by the City of London to prevent youth homelessness and establish long-term connections to financial and housing supports that facilitate life skills to help youth maintain their housing stability.


The Lawson Health Research Institute developed a program in 2006 called Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address (NFA). This program was widely successful in preventing individuals from experiencing homelessness after being discharged from the hospital, however, it was not designed with the specific needs of youth in mind.

“Back in 2006, at least 200 people a year were in a psychiatric unit in [the] hospital one night and the next night homeless.” - Cheryl Forchuk, Lead Researcher for the Preventing Discharge to No Fixed Address for Youth (NFA-Y) Program, Lawson Health Research Institute

Through an evaluation of the NFA program, the Lawson Health Research Institute realized that one-third of all referrals to the NFA program were for individuals aged 25 or younger. With this in mind, they partnered with Youth Opportunities Unlimited along with various other homelessness, health, income support and housing programs in 2020 to pilot a youth-specific version of the NFA program.

Community Impact of Initiative:

The NFA-Y program has had a significant impact. Since April 2022, the NFA-Y Community Liaison, Matthew Forget, has connected with 48 youth, successfully diverting 45 of them from homelessness after their hospital discharge. These diversions include a wide variety of housing options, including:

  • Private market rentals
  • Long-term supportive housing
  • Transitional housing
  • Temporary shelter placements
  • Enrollment in various housing programs within the City of London

Case Study:

The following story demonstrates how the NFA-Y program effectively diverts youth from homelessness:

A young person who was part of the program and was experiencing homelessness upon hospital discharge. They were promptly connected with the YOU shelter in London for a short stay. An NFA-Y program representative ensured income support was available to this young person through Ontario Works. With the assistance of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) operated by the City of London, the youth was matched with a Housing First for Youth program. Through ongoing support from a Housing Stability Worker, the young person secured a housing placement and has successfully moved into their own place.

About the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards

This year marked the third annual Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards Program. The Awards are presented by Canada Life and co-led by A Way Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. They were created to celebrate the important work happening to prevent youth homelessness in Canada. 

Note: This blog post is part of a blog series highlighting the honourable mentions of the MtS Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards. To learn about the other award honourable mention for 2023, read our blog here.