It is estimated that between 150,000 to 200,000 Canadians are homeless, even more tragically one third of them are between the ages of 16 and 24. 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 in getting them home.
The National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, Eva’s Initiatives and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, with funding from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation have set out to see this happen.
Their Mobilizing Local Capacity is a major national effort to significantly change the course of youth homelessness locally and across the country. Over a five-year period, the Program will draw 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: Local Community Engagement and Systemic Public Policy Change.
Local Community Engagement & Knowledge Sharing
This component of the five-year program is focused on a project to build the capacity of two communities per year to effectively respond to youth homelessness. Beginning with Kamloops and Kingston in 2013, the program will help communities assess local needs and identify the resources they need to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. The program will assist participating communities in planning and implementing core strategies to defeat youth homelessness. It will provide local communities with resources that encourage community exchanges, training and the sharing of promising practices locally and nationally. Lessons learned each year will be combined with program partners’ existing experience to equip a growing network of communities with templates, tools and resources for community action to end youth homelessness.
Systemic Change to Public Policies on Youth Homelessness
The public, local communities, all levels of government and the business sector have a role to play in ending youth homelessness. Municipal, regional, provincial/territorial and federal governments have a responsibility to take leadership on this issue. The existing patchwork of policies and programs across the country for youth experiencing homelessness is a barrier to adequately housing youth in Canada. Any young person must be able to access safe, secure, appropriate and adequate housing.
For example, the federal government has no policy framework on youth homelessness, despite the distinct causes of and solutions to the problem. Existing systems – including the 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 and unintended consequences.
The MLC Program will encourage policies and strategies to promote and support transformative change within government services at all levels and in all areas. Collaborative action across various networks will integrate other partners and sponsors in a comprehensive movement to change public policy in Canada.
For more information on this program contact:
Mary Jane McKitterick
National Community Development Coordinator,
Mobilizing Local Capacity Program
Eva’s Initiatives – www.evasinitiatives.com
email@example.com | 416-977-4497, 143
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 14,000 homeless and at risk young people a year and represent communities from coast to coast.