Making Money: the Shout Clinic Report on Homeless Youth and Employment

In our report, Making Money The Shout Clinic Report on Homeless Youth and Employment, we are bringing into focus the issues of homeless youth. In 1999, we conducted an "action research" project in which we surveyed 360 homeless youth in Toronto (in addition, 20 taped interviews). Our goal was to determine the needs and capacities of street youth with regards to employment. That is, to understand their current patterns of making money, to assess their employment expectations and "readiness" for work (education level, housing, other supports), their knowledge and experience in accessing the range of employment services currently available, and their capacity for moving into more "legitimate" ways of making money. Finally, we focused on individual and systemic barriers that reduce the employability of homeless youth, particularly in light of recent changes in the social welfare system, public housing and other supports for the unemployed. Because homeless youth are unable to depend on family support, they MUST make money to survive. This makes the employment stakes even higher than for the general youth population. Sadly, street kids definitely face barriers to making money. Without viable opportunities to generate income, these youth risk spending longer and longer on the streets and, in the process, losing their health, their connections to the mainstream community and their dignity. Many street youth are already involved in earning money somehow: working in fast food restaurants or telemarketing; working in the sex trades; squeegeeing; panhandling; cleaning windshields or selling drugs. These activities reflect a continuum of social acceptability, and in fact several have recently been the focus of public censure by various levels of government. In response to clear indicators that young people in general (particularly early school leavers) are slow to benefit from our current economic recovery1, a range of programs and services do currently exist that are targeted at improving the employment opportunities of youth. Yet, it isunclear how successful these are in meeting the needs of the most marginal populations of youth; that is, those living on the streets.

Publication Date: 
Toronto, ON, Canada