Next week we are releasing our newest Homeless Hub report “Coming of Age: Reimagining Our Response to Youth Homelessness in Canada” by Stephen Gaetz. Youth homelessness is an increasing issue in Canadian society and one that requires distinct responses. Steve will discuss this more in the Friday’s Ask the Hub blog post and the report goes into even greater detail on this topic.

Today’s infographic designed by the Homeless Hub team looks at some key demographics and issues affecting youth experiencing homelessness in Canada, all drawing on statistics in the report to be released on Monday, March 3rd.

One statistic that really struck me in reading the report is that youth who live at home (failure to launch), or return home (boomerang effect), between the ages of 20-29, has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. In 1981 only 26.9% of young adults lived at home, while now that number is 42.3%! The lack of affordable housing (or housing vacancies generally), combined with low levels of income (including minimum wage), increasing credentialism, high costs of post-secondary education, shrinking economy etc. have all combined to lead to empty nests being not quite so empty.

The infographic also highlights the diversity of homeless youth. Responses and solutions need to recognize the over representation of Aboriginal youth (or other racialized groups like black youth in Toronto), the high number of LGBTQ youth (25-40%) and the 2:1 ratio of males to females. Additionally, 40% of homeless youth experience mental health issues, which increases to 70% for those who have been homeless four years or longer (this compares to only 10-20% of housed youth).

It is also important to recognize that our own systems and institutions contribute to making youth homeless. I remember when I was a teen living on independent welfare, how hard it was to continue in school. The high dropout rate of homeless youth reflects this reality, which has continued over 25 years later.

A significant proportion of youth experiencing homelessness have experienced the child welfare or (juvenile) corrections systems as well. Discharge planning and intensive follow-up case management supports need to be built into these systems.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to ending youth homelessness. We can learn from the solutions and strategies outlined in the report and the successes from Australia, the UK and the US who are already entrenched in their responses to youth homelessness.

Coming of Age Infographic