Youth Matters in London: Mental Health, Addiction and Homelessness

Background: "Housing First" has proven to be an effective approach for adults who are homeless and have a mental illness and/or addiction. Prior to this study, this approach had not been tested for youth in a similar situation. This project worked closely with existing service partners involved in street level services and focused on concurrently testing and evaluating three approaches for street level interventions for youth who are homeless and who have severe or moderate mentally illness or living with undiagnosed illness. Youth were asked to choose their preferred service approach:

  1. Housing First related initiatives focused on interventions designed to move youth to appropriate and available housing and ongoing housing supports.
  2. Treatment First initiatives to provide Mental Health/Addiction supports and treatment solutions, and
  3. Simultaneous attention to both Housing and Treatment Together

Aims: Our primary objective was to understand the service delivery preferences of homeless youth and to understand the outcomes of these choices. Specifically, our research questions included:

  1. Which approaches to service are chosen by youth?
  2. What are the differences and similarities between groups choosing each approach?
  3. What are the critical ingredients needed to effectively implement services for homeless youth from the perspectives of youth, families and service providers?