The cost to the community
With the increased risk associated with homelessness, youth can wind up in a shelter bed in Halifax, accessing emergency mental health services, a hospital bed in the city or in the Valley or the Waterville Youth Centre. The costs are tremendous. This is tax payer dollars. Time spent in these places seldom results in a better life or a sustainable solution for homelessness. Rental supplements, affordable housing or residential supports are far more affordable for our communities. These options and others described in the Housing First Framework for Youth are also more effective in bringing change, a better life and a sustainable solution to youth homelessness.
Costs should be one aspect that is considered but more importantly is the opportunity that communities are missing out on- the contribution of these young people that may not complete high school, get a decent job, or share the uniqueness of who they are. If 25- 30% of our children are growing up in poverty and a majority of youth that are at risk of homelessness are experiencing poverty, unless there is compassionate, meaningful, and sustainable intervention, our community will not see those youth live up to their potential. Yet with human contact and life giving relationships, these same youth can be future contributing members of our community.