In 2018 and 2019, we will participate in elections for Toronto (municipal), Ontario (provincial), and Canada (federal). We can hold elected officials accountable on how they’re moving beyond emergency, short-term responses to youth homelessness and changing the conditions that make young people vulnerable to homelessness. What about the candidates you’re considering? What will they do in these key areas?
Homelessness seriously harms a young person’s mental health, and substance use is often a coping mechanism in these situations. Eva’s and other shelter providers have identified a lack of appropriate, relevant mental health services for homeless youth through mainstream healthcare.
What could help: in-shelter youth mental health and substance use supports, training for health professionals to better serve homeless youth.
Colonization and discrimination
Some youth face extremely high risks of homelessness due to a legacy of colonization and social discrimination. For instance, trans youth and racialized youth, particularly Indigenous and Black youth, are in a very precarious position. We can’t end youth homelessness with “one-size-fits-all” approaches, and we have to prioritize youth at highest risk to get the biggest positive impact.
What could help: targeted community funding for highly impacted youth.
Over half of all homeless youth have experienced child protection involvement. At the least, it’s an indication that the child protection system is failing to prevent youth homelessness. Some reforms of child protection are in progress in Ontario, but more needs to happen.
What could help: intentional youth homelessness prevention approach to child welfare; lifelong guarantee of support, including housing, for former youth in care.
Housing and income
Housing is becoming more expensive and good incomes are disappearing. More individuals and families are slipping under the poverty line. These big trends mean an increase in youth homelessness inevitable if efforts aren’t made to turn the tide.
What could help: initiatives to increase affordable housing (e.g. Inclusionary Zoning), poverty reduction supports for families and children.