A Vision for Tomorrow
On any given night, more than 6,000 Canadian youths are homeless. Young people account for one in five of the people living in Canada’s homeless shelters. In Kingston the figure was more acute in 2013. One in three shelter residents here were between the ages of 15 and 24.*
To help these vulnerable young people put their homelessness behind them and live safe, productive lives, the United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington embarked on a mission to prevent and end youth homelessness in our region.
This mission began with the vision of reducing the number of young people using the shelter system. However as the consultation process gained momentum, it became clear that the root causes of homelessness are complex and require intervention on multiple fronts.
Instead of reducing homelessness, then, the United Way opted to focus on prevention, providing timely intervention, and building a sustainable network of supportive resources. While this approach may not have the intended effect of reducing the number of homeless youth, it will ensure that youth homelessness in our community becomes a treatable condition, rather than a chronic one.
And so a new vision emerged: “By 2020, 80 per cent of youths who enter the homelessness system in KFL&A will be housed within 30 days.” By pursuing this vision, we can focus our attention and our efforts on identifying and removing the barriers that keep young people from accessing safe, suitable, and sustainable housing, and ensure that every young person in KFL&A has a place to call home. * In 2017, as a result of community wide efforts, one in five shelter residents were between the ages of 15 and 24.