YMCA Sprott House - Walmer Road Centre, Toronto's first and Canada's largest housing program for LGBTQ2S youth aged 16 to 24, officially opened its doors on February 1, 2016. Twenty-five LGBTQ2S youth live at Sprott House, supported by a team of Case Managers and Youth Workers, and regularly scheduled skills-building and recreational programming.
While people had been advocating for LGBTQ2S-specific housing for youth in Toronto for decades, the YMCA Sprott House story took shape when the 2013 Street Needs Assessment found that at least 21% of youth living in City of Toronto shelters identified as LGBTQ2S. For safety reasons relating to disclosing their sexuality or gender identity to survey volunteers, it is likely the percentage is much higher—closer to the 42% cited in a report by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. This, combined with several research reports about trans men and LGBTQ2S youth experiencing violence in the city’s shelter system, prompted the City of Toronto to make existing shelters safer, and to add 54 new beds designated for LGBTQ2S youth to the shelter system.
When the City put out a request for proposals for shelter and transitional programs specifically for LGBTQ2S youth, the YMCA of Greater Toronto realized they had the opportunity to meet an urgent community need.