The Friendly Landlord Network was initiated by Aunt Leah’s Place, a Vancouver-based charity that has been helping former youth in care and young mothers toward a better future since 1988. The program helps youth exiting care and transitional housing connect with affordable private market rentals in the Metro Vancouver area–and now in Whistler, too!

A black and white photograph of the face of a teenage girl with dark hair looking straight at the camera and smiling slightlyThe program was founded on the belief that deep down, the world is full of good people who really want to help. We find homeowners and landlords with vacant rental units who want to offer a safe home and a leg up to a vulnerable young person.

Keep reading to learn how you can get involved and help prevent a young person from becoming homeless.

Tough times ahead for youth seeking housing

The timing couldn’t be better for a service like this. According to the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, 681 youth are experiencing homelessness on any given night. The count noted that 50% of the youth surveyed said that they’d been in government care, while 11% gave aging out as the primary reason for their first experience with homelessness.

In last year’s post on aging out in BC, we exposed the grim realities for many youth leaving care without proper transition support. And with rental accommodations becoming increasingly difficult to secure, vulnerable young people are getting lost in the cracks and sometimes forced into homelessness.

title page of Summary Report: Youth Homelessness & COVID-19: how the youth-serving sector is coping with the crisis by A. Buchnea, D. French, and M-J McKitterick

Read the Summary Report: Youth Homelessness & COVID-19: How the Youth-Serving Sector is Coping with the Crisis

The 2016 Canadian Census found that 38.6% of Vancouver young people aged 20-34 continue to live with their parents. That demonstrates how difficult it is for young people to thrive without help from a solid support network.

Unstable housing has forced victims of domestic abuse into dangerous or untenable scenarios. Vulnerable people are facing all sorts of consequences of the housing crisis.

In Whistler, the average person pays $1,655 per month on rent and utilities, while Vancouver residents pay $1,295; the rest of the province pays $1,148.

From these statistics alone, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that young people find safe and secure living situations when they need them. However, now that youth are facing the effects of a global pandemic, their options are growing even more limited.

Away Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness recently released the “Summary Report: Youth Homelessness and COVID-19” (1), which reveals that youth in need are receiving less resources and support in this critical time. The report calls on communities to take this population’s needs into consideration when creating response plans and to continue supporting youth-centred programs and services.

It is our hope that for the youth who need it, partners like the Friendly Landlord Network make it possible that they have a place to turn to that isn’t a shelter, a couch, dangerous set-ups, or the streets.

Making it (net)work

The Friendly Landlord Network works with local partner organizations like Zero Ceiling. A Support Worker from the partner organization will help youth get set up on the platform, will help them through the process of finding a suitable rental with a Friendly Landlord, and will support both the tenant and landlord in upholding their ends of the rental agreement.

Some tenants in the program will be income supported, which means that landlords won’t have to worry whether the rent will be paid on time.

Every tenant who comes through Zero Ceiling will be RentSmart Certified, so you can be sure they have the skills and knowledge required to take care of your property and meet expectations.

Landlords who sign up will receive support, education around being a good landlord through RentSmart, and first access to some great renters. They can also benefit from discounted mortgage, home, and life insurance.

Zero Ceiling needs safe housing for graduates

Zero Ceiling have known the awesome people at Aunt Leah’s house for a long time. When we heard about the Friendly Landlord Network, we knew that we needed to get involved.

Not only do we believe that every person has the right to safe and affordable housing, we believe that home owners need the support to find great, responsible tenants who will treat their homes with respect. The Friendly Landlord Network helps to make both of these needs a reality.

When one of our crew reaches graduation, they’ve put in over a year of hard work. We want them to have the option of transitioning into a place that will help them to continue to grow and build on the successes they’ve created while in Work 2 Live. If they want to stay in their new home amongst the network they’ve built, in the jobs they’ve had, and in the mountains they love, we need our community to give them a chance.

And we are excited to say that we’ve already met our first Friendly Landlord, who are currently renting their property to one of our graduates. Thanks to them, this recent graduate has been able to stay in a meaningful job in an independent business and keep connected with us.

If you are a property owner or property manager with a unit that you’ve been thinking about renting out, consider getting involved with the Friendly Landlord Network. Reach out to us to sign up.

stock photo of a plus-size white woman with tattoed arms, looking comfy reading a book on the sofa with her little white dog.

(1) Amanda Buchnea, Mary-Jane McKitterick, David French (2020). Summary Report: Youth Homelessness and COVID-19: How the youth serving sector is coping with the crisis. Toronto, ON: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press and A Way Home Canada.