Arts Engagement

Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness through providing both permanent housing and additional support and services. The framework lists self-determination as one of its core principles– this encompasses not only the ability to find housing, but also more generally to overcome the limitations of homelessness and choose one’s own path forward.

Another principle, social and community integration, refers to the importance of socially supportive engagement and opportunities. Moving out of homelessness can be very isolating and can include the loss or change of what was once one’s community. Securing housing often accompanies saying goodbye to friends or changing social behaviours; all of which may result in feelings of isolation and disorientation.

In addition to challenges associated with securing stable housing, youth require the capacity and skills associated with keeping housing, returning to, continuing or completing education, and gaining supplemental income to gradually move towards financial self-sufficiency. All these demands come at a time when youth are also making ‘home’, facing trauma experienced prehomelessness or while navigating homelessness, and going through the developmental transitions of adolescence to adulthood.

Young people living homeless are diverse, as such no singular approach will suit all young people. It is essential that creative tools and innovative strategies be developed with young people to best determine their interests, needs, gifts, and talents.

Contributed by artists with SKETCH, this module explores arts engagement with young people and outlines activities that can contribute to the strengthening of identity, capacity, opportunities, and community.

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