In early April, a baby girl entered the world; she is the first baby born at The Home in quite some time. Thanks to the Manchester Village – Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) Program, one of The Home’s newest housing programs for young adults ages 18 to 24 who have aged out of state care, Mom didn’t go into labor in a homeless shelter. She was in her own apartment, her two-year-old toddling nearby, until her delivery.
The newborn arrived early, but she is happy and healthy. She just left the hospital, in fact, now that she is big enough. Tucked into her new car seat, she didn’t go to a shelter or into foster care. She headed to the safety of Mom’s apartment, where a bassinet, diapers and baby essentials awaited her—everything Mom needs to welcome her little one to the world and wrap her with love.
The opening of the Manchester Village – YHDP Program brings the success of the Boston model to New Hampshire. The initiative is designed to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness by offering temporary, independent housing to those with the highest need in select communities. Because the Manchester Village – YHDP Program offers multi-bedroom units, young families can occupy these apartments while they regain their footing and work towards permanent housing.
In just three weeks, all four units were filled with young moms, including one who has one-year-old twins and a toddler, and a 19-year-old with custody of a toddler and 13- and 15-year-old stepchildren. “We picked up two families directly from the local shelter agencies and gave them a way out of that environment,” shares Program Director Autumn Nall. Then the five-person Home team, all of whom have children of their own, met the young families’ needs.
When the new residents entered the living spaces, they were overcome with awe and disbelief that they each had their own bedroom, bed and blankets. They could unpack, lock the doors and the moms could even sleep at night, once their bodies recognized they could switch off the high-alert “flight” mode required at a shelter.
Our staff, too, felt the impact and emotion created by these new sets of circumstances. “When you’re housing a young mom with kids, it’s a different kind of grateful,” explains Autumn. “They can make mac and cheese, cookies in the oven—all of those things we take for granted. It has been beautiful to see.”