Reformed approach needed to address youth homelessness, says report

A new York University report is calling for reform in the approach to dealing with youth homelessness and emphasizing the potential role family members can play in supporting youngsters in need.

The report said it's estimated roughly 65,000 young people are homeless or living in homeless shelters throughout the country at one time or another during a given year.

Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of research and professional development in York's faculty of education, used to work in the youth homelessness sector in the '90s. He said the approach in Canada has remained much the same since — namely, the focus on provision of emergency services.

"The longer I'm involved in this issue, the more upset I am that we allow 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds to languish in emergency shelters rather than to provide them with better solutions and better options," said Gaetz. He co-authored the report with Daphne Winland, an associate professor in York's department of anthropology, and researcher Tara Patton.

Gaetz noted that other countries, such as Australia and the U.K., have evolved approaches focusing on prevention and moving individuals out of homelessness and into housing. He said while emergency services are needed, the real emphasis should be on preventing young people from becoming and remaining homeless.

Read the full report: Family Matters: Homeless Youth & Eva's Initiatives Family Reconnect Program

Publication Date: 
Toronto, ON, Canada