History of Our Journey
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) Homeless Prevention Rapid ReHousing Program
In May of 2011, Ekhaya Youth Project was awarded a pilot grant from HUD to house 25 unsheltered transition-aged youth, ages 18-25, and provide intensive case management services. Ekhaya Youth Project used a combination of the Housing First Model, Scatter-site Housing Approach and the Positive Youth Development Model during implementation. 100% of the youth were located through our outreach team and living in places not meant for human habitation (abandoned buildings, parks, cars and under bridges). During the youth intakes, it was discovered that 100% of the youth enrolled into the Ekhaya Homeless Prevention Rapid ReHousing Program (HPRP) had a mental health diagnosis, physical health challenges and lacked the life skills needed to be self-sufficient. Due to the fact that many of the youth enrolled in the housing program had aged-out of foster care, had been discharged from an institution or street youth from other cities, Ekhaya Youth Project had to provide behavioral consultation and mental health referrals when necessary. The behavioral consultation emphasis was placed on the reduction or elimination of problematic behaviors. The focus of the intervention is to replace inappropriate behaviors with positive behaviors or increase the ability of the youth to express more effective and appropriate behaviors. Ekhaya provided rental assistance and case management/service coordination services that were goal-oriented and individualized through assessment, planning, linkage, advocacy, coordination and monitoring activities. The youth participants received successful case management/service coordination which enabled them to achieve their goals through communicating and collaborating with other service providers. In addition to the housing, case management/service coordination services provided to the formerly homeless youth, Ekhaya Youth Project also assisted the youth with employment transition services. The employment transition services were integrated, systematic services for the youth through a jointly planned approach involving broad-based community collaboration, linkages, advocacy and natural supports. By the end of the pilot, 100% of the youth due to their documented diagnoses and disabilities were transferred into long-term rental assistance and other supportive service programs.
Gulf Coast Fund Life Skills Training
i. Ekhaya Youth Project has provided Life Skills Training throughout the state of Louisiana since 2007 and has received funding from the Louisiana Department of Education, Rockefeller Philanthropy Foundation and Peyton Manning’s Peyback Foundation. Ekhaya has served over 1,000 youth through the Life Skills Training Program. Over the past five years, Ekhaya’s Life Skills Training Program has conducted trainings for youth with behavioral, emotional and mental health challenges that were linked to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court, Bridge City Juvenile Detention Center, Covenant House of Greater New Orleans, regional Mental Health Rehabilitation (MHR) agencies and a host of public schools within the Greater New Orleans area. Ekhaya Youth Project Life Skills Training Program utilizes three theoretical approaches to implement the training: Social Learning Theory, Social Inoculation Theory and Cognitive-Behavioral Theory. The youth are instructed on four essential skills: communication, decision-making, goal-setting and stress-management. The four generic skills are interrelated and synergistic.