The Work of Youth Homelessness Prevention in Ontario: Points of Frustration, Points of Potential

Despite a rhetorical turn towards prevention in homelessness policy and research, the work of youth homelessness prevention continues to be frustrated by persistent structural barriers. In this article, we examine how youth homelessness prevention is being implemented in the province of Ontario, with a focus on targeted provincial support programs and local shelter diversion practices. Drawing on interviews with workers in the homeless-serving sector, we describe the implementation of these initiatives and identify points of frustration and potential that workers encounter as they try to prevent experiences of homelessness for youth. We contend that these points of frustration illuminate persistent structural barriers that continue to forestall the work of youth homelessness prevention. Meanwhile, points of potential demonstrate the importance of empowering workers to creatively adapt and offer responsive services. Taken together, these signal the critical importance of two aspects of contemporary homelessness prevention typologies—primordial prevention and empowerment. We end by offering aspirations for action, a political reframing of the policy recommendations sections more typical of social science research articles. We do so to affirm our commitment to advancing the work of structural transformation that is required to achieve the right to housing for all, including youth.

Publication Date: 
Journal Name: