Supporting youth of the area to find their way in life is what the team at Momentum Youth Housing Service do with pride. Focus found out how the organisation helps … and why the problem is bigger than most realise.
What does Momentum Youth Housing Service do?
We provide one to one support for young people who are experiencing particularly challenging personal circumstances – young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Our facilitators assist these young people to find and keep stable and safe accommodation, build skills for independent living and improve their health and wellbeing. We assist them to build positive relationships with their families and friends, work on their personal goals and overcome challenges such as drug and alcohol use and mental health issues.
We support young people to connect or reconnect with education and employment opportunities and to build positive relationships with landlords, real estate agents and government support services such as Centrelink.
We work with young people to build their skills and capacities for independent living, using a strengths-based, person-centered approach. We help young people by connecting them with supports and assisting them to find appropriate accommodation.
When was the organisation set up?
Momentum Youth Housing (“Momentum”) started in 2015.
Who is it for?
Momentum offers housing support for young people aged 17 – 25 years. Our service is located in Coffs Harbour, but we help young people across the Coffs Harbour region, including Woolgoolga, Bellingen and Nambucca.
What are some of the services Momentum can provide?
Momentum facilitators have excellent connections with other support services in the Coffs Harbour community. These connections mean we can successfully refer young people to other services for help. This can be anything from help getting white goods and furniture, to mental health support. We also work with local charities in the area for emergency food vouchers and support in paying arrears in gas and power through the EAPA scheme.
We offer programs that improve the living skills and self-esteem of our participants through the Groundworks Youth Centre. One living skills program is the Rent It Keep It program, or RIKI. This program was developed by the Department of Family and Community Services as a concise “how to” guide for getting and maintaining private rental accommodation. We deliver an adapted “youth friendly” version to young people from Momentum and other youth services in Coffs Harbour.
What type of situation would someone be in, when they could benefit from accessing this service?
Young people accessing our service are usually homeless or at risk of homelessness. Reasons for this could include domestic and family violence, long term unemployment, family breakdown, mental health and substance abuse, young people leaving out of home care and a lack of suitable affordable housing for people on a low income.
In a lot of instances, homelessness is a large contributor to other issues, such as poor mental health, poor diet and substance abuse. By assisting the young people to address their accommodation needs, they have a greater capacity, with support, to address other issues that are impacting their lives.
How is the service funded?
Momentum is funded by the New South Wales Government: Department of Family and Community Services, to prevent and respond to youth homelessness.
Can you tell us about the transitional housing and how that works?
As part of Momentum we deliver a transitional housing program in partnership with Community Housing Limited. Through this program we house young people in subsidised rental accommodation and work intensively with them for up to 12 months. The young people build independent living and maintenance skills – anything from cooking and budgeting skills to mental health support.
Towards the end of the 12 month period we assist young people who are ready to move into stable and safe private rental accommodation. They can do this successfully, because they have completed the RIKI course and have achieved a good rental ledger record and references – all excellent tools to be successful tenants.
Does the Coffs Coast have a very large number of youth who need support?
Yes, unfortunately the Coffs Coast does have a large number of young people needing tenancy and housing support. Last financial year Momentum supported 199 young people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness – this included 46 participants in our transitional housing program. The team at Momentum and the Groundworks Youth Centre work very hard with our participants to assist them when faced with barriers such as rising rental costs and a lack of affordable housing for low income families and individuals in the region.
What needs to be done by the wider community to help improve this situation?
Kindness and compassion from the community can really help to improve this situation. No one wants to be homeless – a whole range of issues can see someone wind up in a bad place. Recognition by the wider community that homelessness can be devastating for young people who find themselves in that situation will help. If someone in the community can identify that another person is struggling and ask them if they are okay and try to get them help, it can make a big difference. If help can be provided quickly, there is a better chance of turning things around and avoiding long term difficulties.
How do people contact the service?
The Momentum team can be contacted on 5632 4021, Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 5:00 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on Momentum and other services can be found on our website at: www.midcoastcommunities.org.au