Nova Scotia

'I've actually got food in the fridge': Program helps homeless Cape Breton youth

Jordan Malloy was homeless, hungry and depressed when he learned about a new program called Housing First for Youth, offered by Cape Breton Community Housing. Now he has a place to live and employment plans.

Housing First for Youth helps homeless young people with places to live and work training

Jordan Malloy of Sydney is part of a new program called Housing First for Youth, that helps young people find a place to live and gives them access to job training. (submitted by Jordan Malloy)

Jordan Malloy, of Glace Bay, went home one day in March 2014 to find his stepfather had changed the locks. He was 21 years old with nowhere to go.

Malloy worked shifts at two fast-food outlets but only had a few dollars in his pocket. His mother had passed away the year before and his brother in 2012. 

"That day, I went to McDonald's first to get something to eat, calm down. I was feeling stressed, tired, angry," he said. 

Malloy then went to the police station looking for help but they said there wasn't much they could do. They directed him to a men's shelter in Sydney.

When he arrived at the men's shelter, Malloy said, "I was grieving still over my brother, over my Mom, also angry about my stepdad. I got to the homeless shelter, I could barely say a word."

"I learned about Loaves and Fishes (soup kitchen) which was good because I was starving," he said. "I didn't have any money."

Before Housing First For Youth, there were few options for homeless young people in Cape Breton Regional Municipality. (CBC)

Cory MacLeod, homeless program coordinator with Cape Breton Community Housing, says at that time, there was no youth-specific housing program in the area for people like Malloy.

Today the young man is part of a new program called Housing First for Youth, that launched in October. First, the program helps young people find a place to live and gets them set up.

"It got me into an apartment that's a lot better than where I was staying because the place I was staying at had mould on the pipes," he said. "My friend let me stay there. I was sleeping on the floor."

Life is looking much better

Housing First for Youth has already found homes for 15 young people and is now offering additional supports, MacLeod said.

"The youth in this program, who just a few months ago were experiencing some of the darkest times of their lives, are going to have access to join the Youth Crew Program at pathways to Employment, he said.

"This will offer individuals paid employment skills training and a work term at the end of the program."

Malloy sat down with a worker and created a plan for what he wants to accomplish in his life and will soon start the skills training program. He said life is looking much better. 

"When I was homeless, at first, I was just slowly giving up hope," he said.

"I thought this was the end for me. I've actually got food in the fridge now."


Joan Weeks


Joan Weeks has been a reporter with CBC in Sydney for over a decade. Many of her stories are investigative with a focus on government spending and accountability, as well as health and economic issues important to Cape Breton.