Research reveals that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 Canadians that are homeless, and tragically at least 20 percent of them are between the ages of 16 and 24 [i]. Beyond the well-being, safety and security of the individuals involved and the wasted potential for society, the support, policing, health and other costs associated with homeless youth far outweigh the costs of effective preventative and remedial action. Homeless youth do not want to be on the street and caring Canadians need to play a greater role to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. The Mobilizing Local Capacity to End Youth Homelessness Program is a major national effort to significantly change the course of youth homelessness locally and across the country. The Program draws on the resources of this unique partnership to:
■ Build community awareness about youth homelessness
■ Support and assist communities to develop and implement plans that will prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness
■ Facilitate linkages and foster effective networks and collective action to combat youth homelessness
■ Promote systemic change to Canadian public policies impacting on youth homelessness
The program has two main components: Building Local Capacity and Systemic Public Policy Change.
Building Local Community Capacity & Knowledge Sharing
This component is focused on supporting two small or medium-sized communities per year to develop community plans to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. It provides local communities with resources that encourage community collaboration, exchanges and training. It links them with other communities and resources in order to share promising practices locally and nationally. Lessons learned each year are combined with program partners’ existing experiences to equip a growing network with templates, tools and resources for community action to end youth homelessness.
Now well into its third year, the MLC program is excited to be working with Brandon, MB and Yellowknife, NWT. The Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and The Sidedoor in Yellowknife are providing leadership between their respective communities and the MLC Program. They join the communities of Kamloops, BC led by the City of Kamloops, Kingston, ON led by the United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Wellington County, ON led by the Community Resource Centre and Saint John, NB led by the Human Development Council. Year 1 communities are nearing the end of the development phase of their plans to end youth homelessness. The MLC program partners (Catherine Donnelly Foundation, National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, Canadian Housing Renewal Association, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness/Homeless Hub, Raising the Roof, and Home Depot Canada Foundation) and Steering Committee comprised of sector experts from across Canada are committed to expanding the work with communities across the diverse regions of Canada throughout the length of the program.
Systemic Change to Public Policies on Youth Homelessness
All levels of government, the community and the corporate sector have a role to play in ending youth homelessness. Municipal, regional, provincial/territorial and federal governments have a responsibility to provide leadership on this issue. The existing patchwork of policies and programs across the country for youth experiencing homelessness is a barrier to preventing, reducing and ending youth homelessness and to adequately housing youth in Canada. Young people must be able to access safe, secure, appropriate and adequate housing.
Currently the federal government has no policy framework on youth homelessness, despite the distinct causes of and solutions to the problem. Existing systems – including child welfare, mental health, criminal justice systems, and others – must be transformed and integrated to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. These systems need to work together to provide effective and seamless supports. A review of existing programs and policies through a “youth lens” can help to eliminate service gaps.
The MLC Program encourages innovation, policies and strategies to promote and support transformative change within government services at all levels and in many areas to end youth homelessness in Canada. Collaborative action across various networks brings together other partners and sponsors in a comprehensive movement to change public policy to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness in Canada.
For inquiries contact:
Melanie Redman – Director, National Initiatives, Eva’s Initiatives Toronto, Ontario
firstname.lastname@example.org | 416-364-4716, x246
[i] Stephen Gaetz, Jesse Donaldson, Tim Richter, & Tanya Gulliver (2013): The State of Homelessness in Canada 2013. Toronto: Canadian Homelessness Research Network Press.
The National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness was founded in 2006 and is a collaborative forum working to build capacity within the youth serving sector and raise awareness of youth homelessness in Canada. Its member organizations work with over 25,000 homeless and at risk young people a year and represent communities from coast to coast.