4 MYTHS BUSTED ABOUT LOCAL HOMELESS YOUTH

WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF HOMELESS YOUTH?

It might be time to think again. Stereotypes can hinder at-risk youth from getting the help they need to get back on track for a safe and successful future.

Tracy Wood is the Senior Coordinator of Community Programs for Elizabeth Fry Society of Simcoe County. Her portfolio includes overseeing the UWSM-funded Youth Trustee Program, for which she was recently recognized as an Outstanding Community Contributor by the District Municipality of Muskoka. As a front-line youth worker, she identifies the top myths about homeless youth, and shares her knowledge of the young people she works with every day across our region.

  1. Homeless youth are run-a-ways who are just unruly.

In our experience working with youth in our Youth Trustee Program, 50 per cent of them report they had been kicked out of their parental home by a parent. They state that they did not choose to be homeless, their parents took away that choice.

  • 25% of youth in the program report that they have been under the in care of Children’s Aid Society or a Crown Ward and have had no parental support or guidance.
  • 25% of youth our in the program report they experienced abuse or neglect by their parents or guardians.
  • 25% of youth in the program say that their parents were unable to provide parental support or guidance due to addictions, mental health issues, or incarceration.

 

  1. Homeless youth are lazy and do not want to work or go to school.

All youth in our program are enrolled in school and are achieving their educational goals.

  • 70% of the youth in the program secured summer employment this year and 50% maintained part-time employment and returned to full-time school.

 

  1. Homeless youth support themselves through criminal activity.

All youth in our program are eligible for Ontario Works benefits for rent and basic needs. This allows them to focus on their education and seek part-time employment.

  • Only 8% of youth in the program have been of a minor criminal offence.
  • Only 4% of youth in the program have disclosed that they have convicted of a criminal offence.

 

  1. Homeless youth live on the streets.

The majority of youth in the program have secured accommodation or are couch surfing or staying with friends. Youth in the program are very resourceful and resilient.

  • The enormous challenge of securing affordable for youth include landlords are unwilling to rent to youth under 18 years of age
  • Rental rates are twice the amount youth receive from Ontario Works for housing
  • There are no youth shelters or transitional housing for youth in the Muskoka.

Learn more about youth poverty in Simcoe Muskoka.

 

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