Who Are Homeless Youth?
When NYSA talks about youth homelessness, it refers to young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, and who are lacking many of the social supports deemed necessary for a successful transition from childhood to adulthood. In these circumstances, these youth do not have a stable or consistent residence or source of financial support, nor do they necessarily have adequate access to the support networks necessary to foster a safe and nurturing transition into the world of adult responsibilities. According to Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey, 20 percent of Canada’s homeless population is comprised of youth between the ages of 13-24. In any given year, there are at least 35,000-40,000 youth experiencing homelessness. They may be temporarily living in hostels, staying with friends, living in ‘squats,’ renting cheap rooms in questionable boarding houses or hotels, or actually living and sleeping on the streets. In some cases, they may be living with parents or relatives who are also at imminent risk of losing their shelter. Over the course of time, many homeless youth move between these various housing situations –the instability of housing is partially what characterizes their homelessness.
Youth homelessness is distinct from adult homelessness, both in terms of its causes and consequences. Most youth who find themselves without a home have done nothing wrong. They haven’t had a chance to succeed – so they have never failed! Street youth, unlike adults experiencing homelessness, leave homes defined by relationships (both social and economic) in which they were dependent upon adult caregivers, whether parents, relatives or foster parents. A high percentage of youth experiencing homelessness are also in the care of child protection services. 77.5% of youth experiencing homelessness reported that their inability to get along with their parents played a significant role in why they left home. For all these reasons and more, a youth-based strategy – and the services that support this strategy – must be distinct from that for the adult sector.
Communities must understand the distinct challenges of sub-populations in the youth cohort in order to respond to their specific needs. For example, 29.5% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ2S and of the homeless youth staying in shelters, 28.2% identify as members of racialized communities.
NYSA believes that providing quality programming and support will ensure that no youth becomes entrenched in a lifelong struggle with chronic homelessness – becoming a burden on society rather than a happy, healthy, contributing member of the community.
What We Do
Supporting youth’s physical, mental and emotional development.
Creating sustainable social enterprises to support youth development.
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NYSA acknowledges our work takes place on Coast Salish territories and primarily the lands of the Snuneymuxw people.