Youth homelessness is exploding

Home Street Home.

For the 2,000 homeless youth on Toronto’s busy streets every night, the approaching holiday season spells frost-bite and sleepless nights spent fighting to keep warm.

Every year, nearly 40,000 young people experience homelessness in Canada — representing 20% of the country’s homeless population at any given time.

Our homeless youth face a number of barriers that make it hard to find stable housing and employment:

  • They are often fleeing physical, sexual, or other forms of abuse within their homes.
  • They have often experienced mental health or addiction problems — or both.
  • They often identify as LGBTQ2S.
  • Many are Indigenous or from racialized communities.
  • Some have been victims of human trafficking.
  • Over half have had some kind of involvement with child protection services — and many have “aged out” of Ontario’s care without a plan in place.

Simply put: youth homelessness in Canada is a national crisis we cannot afford to ignore any longer.

COVID-19 has pushed us to a breaking point

The government’s response to COVID-19 has been clear from the beginning: shelter in place, wear a mask, wash your hands and respect 2-metre social distancing. But for youth who are homeless, it’s nearly impossible to follow these basic safety directives.

Homeless youth face additional challenges to staying safe and healthy during a pandemic: many have no easy access to medical care, can’t afford basic sanitation products, and have no safe place to physically distance.

As we confront the challenges of this pandemic, our most vulnerable young people are quite literally being left out in the cold.

Our governments must recognize this crisis for what it is — a crisis — and free up the necessary resources to end youth homelessness now.

But this is a long-term problem that requires long-term solutions as well as a short-term emergency response. We have a responsibility to give our youth — homeless or otherwise — the skills and tools they need to thrive.

Yes, I agree, we need strong leadership to decrease the number of homeless youth, especially in this extremely vulnerable time in their lives.

A new Action Plan is badly needed

The City’s last Youth Job Action Plan was released in 2015 — and it did not address the problem of youth homelessness. Since then, the jobless rate and the number of homeless have steadily risen.

Simply, we need a Youth Job Action Plan led by Mayor John Tory and the City of Toronto.

With dedicated government policies, programs and supports, we can offer homeless youth meaningful job training that will boost their self-confidence, allow them to find gainful employment and relieve the crushing economic stress they face.

Today, Eva’s Initiatives is calling on Toronto mayor John Tory to break down employment barriers and make a Youth Job Action Plan part of a comprehensive approach to resolving homelessness.

Yes, I call on Toronto’s Mayor John Tory to take decisive action on youth homelessness by prioritizing youth job training, housing supports and other measures to give our young people the help they need to emerge from COVID-19.

Take action today!

Homelessness is not a misfortune, it’s an injustice.

Now, more than ever, Toronto’s homeless youth need our support. As winter looms, help Eva’s Initiatives get its message to Toronto’s City Hall — and fight to put an end to youth homelessness.

By signing our petition, you’re sending a clear message to John Tory that we need to prioritize youth and offer them a level playing field with great job training. Join us today!