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Do you have a young person sleeping on your couch or in your basement?
Perhaps a friend of your child’s, your niece, nephew or neighbor?

Maybe your child’s friend or a young neighbor started coming to your house for a meal
or two then stayed for a few nights, and now they have just become part of your

Couch-hopping, or staying with friends or relatives, is a common arrangement for youth
experiencing homelessness, especially in rural Minnesota. Youth experience
homelessness for many reasons, most of them due to circumstances beyond their

Many adults are willing to open their homes to young people in need, but it can
feel stressful and overwhelming…

  • Electric bills or water bills go up

  • Grocery expenses increase

  • Extra transportation might be necessary

  • Where does the young person sleep?

  • Communication can be tricky

  • Conflict arises

  • Boundaries and rules might be hard to enforce

  • You don’t know where to turn for guidance


“How do I set these boundaries that ‘If you’re not in treatment, you’re not going to be
able to stay with me forever?’ I don’t know how to have that conversation with him. So
support around that would be good…for both of our sides.”
    ~Denice on hosting her best friend’s son

Open Doors for Youth can help!

Open Doors can turn your home into an OPEN HOME by providing:

  • Guidance and problem-solving for YOU

  • A listening ear and case management for the youth to help them with goals and connect them with community resources

  • Help to mediate and to maintain an agreement about shared expectations so that everyone starts—and stays—on the same page

  • Ongoing support and help for you and the young person

  • Moderate financial support

“I think ‘housing’ - that’s a bed to sleep in, and for some, yes, that’s the bare minimum of
what we can do. But to me, a home is a place where you are loved and where you’ve got
guidance and where you’ve got rules and where there are consequences and where
you learn things and where you laugh…”
    ~Beverly* on hosting her daughter’s best friend

Who’s eligible?
Youth and young adults 16 to 24 years old and the adults they are staying with who live
in Elk River or surrounding communities, including Becker, Big Lake, Otsego,
Monticello, Princeton, St. Michael/Albertville, Rogers, and Zimmerman.

To learn more about becoming an OPEN HOME, contact Cindy Ley at or 763-441-1473.

Open Doors only supports OPEN HOME arrangements where young people are
physically, emotionally, and sexually safe.

Open Doors for Youth is proud to partner with CloseKnit to create the OPEN HOMES
program. To learn more about CloseKnit (formerly the Minnesota Host Home Network)
and founder and director Jacqueline White, go to

*All quotes are actual quotes from Minnesota adults who were providing a home to a young person in
need. Names have been changed. The interviews were conducted by CloseKnit as part of The Interview
Project, an academic study conducted under the auspices of the University of St. Thomas School of
Social Work.

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