Over the past 16 years, the Government of Canada, through its National Homelessness Initiative and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, has actively supported communities across the country to address homelessness. While many communities have used part of their federal investment to support youth focused programs and services, there has not been a strategic focus on youth homelessness since the early years of the program.
In this policy brief, we make the case that there is now an opportunity for the Government of Canada to work with community partners to address youth homelessness in a much more strategic and effective manner. There is a growing recognition that youth homelessness is distinct from adult homelessness in terms of its causes and conditions and it then follows that so must be the solutions. There is also an acknowledgement that we must do things differently; that managing the problem through emergency services is not enough if young people become mired in homelessness and find it difficult to escape. While emergency supports will always be necessary and important, we need to shift our energy and focus to preventing youth from becoming homeless on the one hand, and assisting others to exit homelessness as quickly as possible, and in a safe and planned way with necessary supports.