Accessing affordable housing in Toronto is a challenge for most people. For Black youth, it comes with additional obstacles.
“Young people are struggling to secure a lease and rent is incredibly high for everyone. It doesn’t help when, for many different reasons—sometimes barriers and discrimination around their age, ethnicity, lack of references, or sources of income—a lot of landlords pick and choose who they will rent to,” said Linda, an Eva’s Housing Support Worker.
She works in our YOUth Belong (YBH) program for Black youth experiencing homelessness or precarious housing. The program provides participants with housing in a community setting with staff support.
Staff like Linda help Black youth navigate the structural and systemic barriers they are experiencing when attempting to find stable housing in Toronto. As part of the YBH program, young people have access to a housing worker, life skills and financial literacy support, counselling and education, and employment programs.
It’s very important for young people to know their rights and the supports and resources that are available. They have access to grants and bursaries, furniture banks, food banks and more. A lot of times, youth aren’t aware of what’s available in the community.”
Housing support workers also accompany young people on viewings and act as references. “Some landlords try to manipulate and take advantage. There have been scenarios where landlords ask youth for all these little things to pay, such as a deposit for a key or paying three months’ rent up front, even when I’m with them, and I have to step in.”
Throughout the YBH program, youth are learning how to navigate the housing system, advocate for themselves and connect with resources when they need additional help.
“Over time, young people become more confident that if something comes up, they know how to handle it, or they know the places they can call to get extra support or information.”