When youth move into Eva’s Phoenix, they’re handed a key—and a support system designed to launch them into a fulfilling, independent life. For many, it’s the first time they’ve had either.
The program houses 50 young people among 10 shared townhouse-style units. Each youth has their own bedroom and access to shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, and study areas.
“The youth are here for one year and the focus is to help them develop the life skills they need to live independently,” said Darryl Spencer, senior site manager of Eva’s Phoenix.
“We have a dedicated youth support worker for each resident to offer counseling and help them make a plan, but the youth are in the driver’s seat when it comes to the outcomes. The only non-negotiable is that we aim to find housing for each person within a year.”
While living at Eva’s Phoenix, youth develop critical skills through support and hands-on programs like food handling and chores and cleaning. They also take workshops focused on topics like anti-oppression to help them cope as they navigate colonial and racist systems like health care, child welfare, education, housing, and criminal justice. Living in the community and learning alongside one another often results in long-lasting, meaningful relationships among residents.
Housing and community support coordinators also work on-site to help connect youth with resources in the community and bring in valuable learning opportunities. “We’ve partnered with Credit Canada and brought them in to do workshops on financial literacy. Recent workshops centred on money management and budgeting, credit card management, and learning how credit scores work. If you’re looking for housing, a credit score is a vital piece people understand and we want youth to be as prepared as possible,” said Darryl.
Also on-site is the 20-week Youth Succeeding in Employment (YSEP) program that helps those who are ready for that next step find economic stability. They learn pre-employment skills, get valuable workplace training and, ultimately, gain employment experience.
When it’s time to move out, youth stay connected to Eva’s Phoenix through follow-up supports, as they transition to independent living.
“The program gives people an opportunity to rise up out of poverty. Everybody has something to contribute to society to lift it up. Helping youth find what that is for them and providing them with a sense of purpose and some direction to achieve that purpose is what we work toward at Eva’s Phoenix. It’s a special place,” said Darryl.