Born out of a series of complex and interrelated factors, youth homelessness is a persistent and growing problem throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. According to End Homelessness St. John’s, shelter statistics from 2012 reveal that youth ages 16-24 comprise 30% of St. John’s emergency shelter population. This is 10% higher than the national average and has been cited as growing.
Following a community planning institute in December 2014, Choices for Youth, along with local and national partners, authored a report in June 2015 titled “Towards a Solution: Creating a Plan to End Youth Homeless in Newfoundland and Labrador”. The report, accompanied by a panel discussion at City Hall, was a call-to-action showcasing foundational evidence that the problem exists here; that solutions exist and have demonstrated impact; and that their implementation is not only realistic but already in motion for many communities across Canada. The report also highlighted next steps to fill knowledge gaps and work collaboratively with partners to create a plan that works in Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of the most important aspects of this work is to explore the scope of the problem in Newfoundland and Labrador. To get a truly accurate picture of youth homelessness in the province, there is a need to investigate how young people are represented in the homeless and at-risk population in communities across Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposed study would develop a snapshot of youth homelessness in in the province while exploring their range of needs, available services, common experiences and data trends. This information is crucial to mobilize adequate resources and direct the development of a plan that is truly provincial in scope.
The Harris Centre, The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (The Homeless Hub), The National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, and Mobilizing Local Capacity End Youth Homelessness (A Way Home), and End Homelessness St. John’s, have all been a part of this project to date. The report, Towards a Solution can be downloaded at www.choicesforyouth.ca/tas.