The Valley Youth House Pride Housing Program - Eric's Story
The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund is pleased to support grant awardee, The Valley Youth House. Started in 2009, Valley Youth House is the only organization in Philadelphia that provides rapid rehousing to homeless LGBTQ youth, which includes rental assistance and supportive services to prepare the youth for independence. The story of one young man illustrates the impact of the Pride program. “Eric” joined Pride in the Spring of 2013 after deciding that he wanted to move out of a local homeless shelter and live on his own. Eric was a homeless youth whose mother forced him to leave her house because she did not approve of his gay identity and could not tolerate his emotional problems. Eric had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and suffered from frequent panic attacks. Upon joining Pride, Eric began the required ten hours of intensive life skills and housing courses. After successfully completing the coursework, Eric was provided with an apartment, money for the initial rent and security deposit, and donated used furniture. He worked with Sarah, Pride Life Skills Counselor, to determine a goal plan, which primarily focused on addressing his anxiety disorder and building an income stream to provide for housing costs after program discharge. With this in mind, Sarah helped Eric to find and apply for a retail job in order to support his independence. Unfortunately, the stresses of the work environment began to trigger anxiety attacks while on the job. Sarah connected Eric to a lawyer through the Homeless Advocacy Project’s SOAR Program to guide Eric through the process of applying for SSI benefits so that he could afford medication to treat his anxiety. Sarah then helped Eric locate a new part-time job speaking about his experiences at a local community center for LGBT youth. Eric commented that he felt he fit in much better at his new job and enjoyed being able to speak with and meet youth who were facing similar struggles to his own. Eric was discharged from the program in September of 2014. Sarah noted dramatic improvement in his conflict resolution abilities during his time in Pride. Initially, he was very reactive and argumentative, often displaying dramatic physical reactions. During the program, however, he began to discuss appropriate conflict resolution skills with Sarah and would come to her to discuss how to properly approach problems at work and in day-to-day life. Eric continues to live in his apartment and maintains his part-time employment while exploring full-time opportunities. The DVLF is proud to support the Valley Youth House and looks forward to sharing many more of its success stories in the coming year.