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Housing

Our supportive housing resource is a place where youth can rest, recharge, and heal. In each home, mentors act as the first point of contact for youth. Community is built through weekly house dinners, shared experiences, and daily interactions. It’s a model that feels more like a family than a program. We recognize that having stable housing is only the start of long term stability. It’s through community that youth begin to rebuild their circles of support and achieve interdependence.

Our Homes

At A.Y.A. Youth Collective, housing exists to bridge the gap between homelessness and interdependence. Finding long term stability only occurs when community and young people work in tandem to create opportunities for growth and change. We walk alongside each young person who moves into our homes, setting goals together that make sense for their life circumstances. Each house has dedicated mentors on site ready to support at any time along a youth’s journey toward stability. Learn about each of our homes and meet our mentors below!

8

Homes

11

On-Site Mentors

50+

Youth Welcomed Home Since 2012

675+

House Dinners Shared

Cherry Home

Cherry’s theme, Barruk Haaba, means welcome. At this house, all are welcome and are welcomed as they are.

Prince Shema became a mentor in 2020. He is excited to offer encouragement and support to youth by sharing hope and instilling confidence. Prince hopes to establish a culture of mutual respect in the Cherry Home. Prince also works in the human resource department at a food industry company. In his role, he provides support to staff facing a variety of situations.

House details

Launched in 2016, 2 mentors, Space for 4 youth

Logan Home

Logan’s theme, Savvato, means rest. At this house, youth experience true rest through the safety and stability of the home.

Rebekah and Savion Sanford, founding mentors, began in October 2017. Savion and Rebekah were drawn to A.Y.Y because of their passion for walking alongside youth in any life situation. They approach mentoring with empathy and care, recognizing the multiple types of trauma young people have experienced. Savion works to end food insecurity in Grand Rapids and Rebekah is a freelance writer. Youth in their home have built deep and real relationships navigated conflict resolution and pursued education and career goals.

House details

Launched in 2017, 2 mentors, space for 3 youth

Lyon Home

Lyon’s theme, Machaceh, means refuge. At this house, youth find refuge and a safe place to move forward towards their futures

Adam and Mary DeYoung, founding mentors, began in April 2018. Adam and Mary were drawn to A.Y.A because of their deep belief in the power of community. Mary has her Master’s in Social Work and experience working with youth in a variety of situations. Adam is an engineer and property manager, with a passion for cultivating authentic relationships. Youth in their home have already obtained and maintained employment, developed interdependent relationships with one another, and are looking towards their futures.

House details

Launched in 2018, Space for 3 youth, two mentors

Naylor Home

Naylor’s theme, Echadh, means unity. At this house, youth experience true unity through community and connection.

Asu Iyakaremye came to A.Y.A because of his own personal experience and the experiences of young people he knew. Asu is passionate about impacting people. Asu began mentoring in 2017. Asu was drawn to A.Y.A because of his personal experiences and his work with refugee youth. He saw firsthand how young people, aging out of our foster care systems, both domestically and refugee, were vulnerable to homelessness and needed long-term support. Asu is currently pursuing his Master’s in Social Work and also works with refugee youth in his day job. Youth in Asu’s house have obtained their driver’s licenses, pursued educational and career goals, and moved into housing of their own!

House details

Launched in 2012, 1 mentor, space for 4 youth

Union Home

The theme of Union House is stay weird. Members of Union House encourage each other to embrace their quirks and proudly be who they are, sharing their unique personalities, skills and perspectives to connect and grow in community together.

Cristina (Tina) Ureña is a Grand Rapids native returning from DC with experience in crisis intervention, trauma-informed supports, and hospitality management. Tina currently utilizes Applied Behavior Analysis in working with people who are living with Traumatic Brain Injury and is pursuing a graduate degree. Tina has been serving as a mentor since the beginning of the year fostering a culture where each member of the home feels supported in sharing their skills, insights, struggles, and strategies with one another.

House details

Launched in -, 1 mentor, 3 youth

Underhill Homes

Underhill’s theme, Agape, means love. At this house, youth experience the fullness of love through an interdependent community. They rely on their mentor and one another for support.

Mark and KJ Tucker moved to Grand Rapids from Redford, MI in 2012 and have called the city home ever since. Mark is our Director of Operations as well as a high school football coach and KJ is a real estate agent. They are also the happiest parents of an amazing little girl, Aliyah, who reminds them every day how important it is to be present in the lives of those we care about. Mark and KJ are honored to be mentoring young parents and look forward to building community and systems of support with the youth and their children. Plus, Aliyah gets to make a lot of new friends!

House details

2 mentors, space for 4 youth

Lafayette Home

Lafayette’s theme, Radix, means root. In this house, youth experience the rootedness and stability of a place to call home.

Last year, a donor approached us offering a 0% interest line of credit for the purchase of a new property. Because of this donor’s investment, 4 youth and 1 mentor will call the Lafayette house their home. We have been working to develop 2 units in this house and are dreaming about other possibilities on this property.

While we are eager to continue the Lafayette Home project, it is currently paused as we use our time and resources to support the immediate needs of youth impacted by COVID-19. Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on the progress of this project.

What We Do

Provide Housing

One to two mentors and three to four youth live together in a duplex

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Youth sign lease to foster ownership

Youth pay $300 per month for rent

Build Community

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Day to day interactions with mentors and roommates

Establishment of traditions for birthday celebrations and holidays

Alumni network

Long-lasting & consistent relationships

Find Stability

Move out into independent housing

Obtain living-wage employment

Pursue additional education

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Secure reliable transportation

Housing Inquiries

To inquire about openings within our homes please visit our drop-in center. Our advocates are the first to know when there is an opening and can talk with you if our supportive housing resource is the best next step for you! We will also explore housing options from other providers to find the best fit for you! 

Pillars of our Housing Resource:

Community

Youth enter a house and become a part of a community like none other. Youth receive immediate support and encouragement through an environment where they are known and their basic needs are met. The community is built through weekly house dinners, birthday celebrations, and time together during the holidays.

Advocacy

We partner with community organizations to provide youth advocacy/case management services. Each young person sets short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, and works to achieve these goals with their youth advocate, house mentors, and supportive networks.

Building A Future

Educational barriers are broken down as youth obtain high school diplomas, GEDs, and attend college. Employment barriers are decreased as supportive employers partner to hire youth and train them in vocational sectors. Authentic life skills training occurs within the context of real-life situations and creates opportunities for growth.

FAQ’s

How big are the homes?

Each home is typically a duplex style home with room for 3-4 youth. The additional unit typically can house 1 or 2 mentors.

How much does it cost to live in a home?

Youth pay $300 dollars a month, moms pay $400 a month due to the larger spaces for themselves and their kids.

$50 of this cost it put towards utilities.

What support do youth receive once they leave AYA housing?

Youth have the opportunity to earn a scholarship of up to $1,200 payable upon move out. These scholarships are paid to youth who pay rent on-time and work diligently towards achieving the goals they develop with their mentors.

What are youth required to do?

Youth participate in weekly house dinners and other activities and meetings with mentors and the Housing Coordinator.

What can youth expect from their house mentor?

Mentors help youth learn to drive, study for exams, identify goals, learn to cook, learn from youth about their favorite meals, expose youth to more opportunities and experiences and more.  Most importantly, mentors provide genuine encouragement and support as youth work towards their goals!

Testimonials

“I joined A.Y.A. in the summer of 2016. After my family and friends refused or didn’t have a place to give me, I contacted A.Y.A. and they gave me a place to stay, to sleep.”

“At this house, I was able to graduate from high school and start a full-time job! And now, I’m moving into my own apartment!”

“House Mentors are helpful and caring when you need them!”

“I can freely talk to my house mentors about anything. we talk, we laugh, and we have the deepest conversations about who we are as people. Being able to talk to them is just phenomenal.”

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