Together We Can Make a Difference – The Host Home Program

Carley Cysensky, a staff member at Shared Housing Services, wrote this description of their Host Home Program. Associated Ministries works closely with this organization to change the lives of homeless youth and young adults in Pierce County.



Carley’s Story…

After a long day filled with work and school, friends and family, most of us eagerly anticipate heading home for the day. Home is where we relax, recharge our batteries, play with our pets, and make dinner with a significant other. Home is more than a place, it’s a feeling.

In Pierce County, on any given night, we have approximately 3000 youth and young adults experiencing, or at-risk of experiencing, homelessness. These are not run-aways, troubled youth or juvenile delinquents. They aren’t fleeing from the law or from parents who aren’t permissive enough. Some may be fleeing a dangerous situation like drug use or domestic violence. Some have found themselves alone, abandoned by their family. Some are jumping from friend to friend, keeping fingers crossed that someone will allow them a place to crash. This community recognizes the importance of supporting our youth/young adults and has banded together to create a comprehensive collaboration to provide housing and case management for young people experiencing homelessness in our county.

The Host Home Program, implemented by Shared Housing Services, pairs a young person experiencing homelessness with a caring individual/family that have a spare bedroom and want to make a difference. Host Home Providers complete an application process that includes a home visit, comprehensive background check, and training. Host Home Providers get to create a profile of the young/young adult he/she believes will fit best in his/her home. A small stipend is included to cover the costs of rent and utilities for the room. Young people in the Host Home Program receive case management and vocational services, to work toward achieving self-sufficiency and independence. Host Home Program participants also have access to life skills classes that provide training on financial literacy, cooking, cleaning, credit building, resume creation, etc.

The Host Home program doesn’t just assist participants with housing and goal setting- it instills hope. Most young people experiencing homelessness are escaping unsafe environments- our clients are survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, violent crime and commercial sexual exploitation to name a few. Host Home participants need more than housing and case management; they need a chance to see the world differently. The Host Home program allows young people who have experienced extreme trauma to connect with a caring adult mentor in their own home. For a young person who has had very little or no positive support, this relationship is immensely powerful; participants learn to trust again, their world view is forever changed by the impact of this relationship. Host Home Providers and participants share more than their housing; they share successes and challenges, they make meals and spend time together, they offer each other support when needed. The long-term impact of having a significant relationship with a caring adult is well documented, the Host Home program gives youth/young adults experiencing homelessness in our county an opportunity to build that impactful relationship and see that life can be different when you feel at home.

If you are a caring adult with an open heart and a spare bedroom, we would love to hear from you! Please call Carley Cysensky or Bobby Ocasio at Shared Housing Services 253.272.1532 for more program information or to sign up as a Host Home Provider.  email Carley


Share this story!