The impact of the pandemic and rising inflation has created ongoing barriers for our young clients, especially those who need housing. Perin, a Community Support Worker from our Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Program, says it’s a worry: “Rent prices have gone up so much and Ontario Works (OW) benefits are just not enough. With the pandemic, some of our clients have lost jobs and are having difficulty finding new ones because of that gap in their employment.”
Perin’s days are spent visiting and supporting clients across LOFT’s various supportive housing locations for youth – from facilitating life skills meetings, attending appointments, helping with rent, conducting health and wellness checks, to working with clients on their goals. “Housing is a different level of support because we’re in clients’ homes. We need to be a little more flexible and even more relational. We meet and support clients where they’re at.”
At LOFT, we recognize that isolation during the pandemic seriously impacted youth mental health. When lockdowns occurred, the only people our clients saw regularly were housing workers like Perin. Encouraging youth to socialize and join activities was vital in managing their mental illness. “We would go Perin goes where she’s needed for walks, try to find activities online or support them with virtual interviews. We just tried to be there with them. We even did a Hallowe’en haunted house walk-through, which was one of my favourite memories.”
Through her work, Perin sees just how vital transitional housing and housing support is. “Clients want a place of their own. They want to transition, but feel that independent housing is out of reach. That’s why it’s so important to provide transitional housing. They’re able to think, and realize “Okay I’m here for a year – I can focus on my mental health goals and have a safe space in which to do that before moving on.”
Outside of work, Perin likes spending her time outdoors paddle boarding, “I love the feeling of being on water. It’s just so calming.”
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