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September 21, 2018

Youth organization adds housing to the mix

When Lucas Frampton is asked where he would be without a secure place to call home, his response is simple.

“I honestly don’t know,” says the 24-year-old London, Ontario youth.

Lucas works in the YOU Made It Café, a business initiative of Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

“Day-to-day life is just so hard without good housing,” says Lucas. “That’s the thing you’re always thinking about.” Lucas knows this first-hand. As a teen, he moved to a group home because of a troubled home life.

Nikitia Carimbocas, 21, works with Lucas at the café. She recently moved to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago and has also accessed many of the Youth Opportunities Unlimited services.

“As a young person, I need a landlord who cares and understands that I need to feel secure where I’m living,” says Nikitia.

For 36 years, Youth Opportunities Unlimited has helped people like Lucas and Nikitia find a way forward. The organization provides on-the-job training, skills development, education and health and wellness support. Their suite of services also expanded to include housing.

“A lack of housing stops progress on almost everything else,” says executive director Steve Cordes. The organization’s newest development is called New Addition. It will provide housing for youth and the necessary services for couples, single mothers with children and young moms-to-be.

“They need access to affordable housing. Then their other needs can be met,” says Steve.

Two floors of New Addition will host 10 community partners that will provide direct supports for residents. These will include health services, education, job training and mental health and addictions counselling.

“It will be an all-in-one shop,” says Steve.

Lucas agrees “one thousand percent” with adding housing to the mix of services. “Housing is — if not the most important thing — one of the most important things,” he says.

“Everybody needs somewhere they can feel like they have a home.”

Youth Opportunities Limited received $160,900 in Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) funding to help cover costs of renovating a previous affordable housing building and making it accessible for people with limited mobility