There's a problem?
Do we have a problem with youth homelessness in The Annapolis Valley?
Unreservedly, yes. Youth are among the fastest growing and most underserved of Canada’s homeless population. They make up 20% of the homeless population. To some, the issue of youth homelessness is unseen and therefore not an issue. To those that know the youth and hear their story, it is a very real and challenging issue. There are different categories of homelessness: unsheltered, staying in emergency shelters; staying in women’s emergency shelters, provisionally accommodated and the hidden homeless. Often referred to as couch surfing, hidden homelessness includes youth who are temporarily staying with friends, relatives or others because they have nowhere else to live and no immediate prospect of permanent housing. All categories in this plan are of concern. The most concerning is the hidden homeless as there is no reliable data on the hidden homelessness in Canada at the national level and very little at the community level. Those that are hidden are missed and un-accounted for but also at the most risk. The situation for those at risk or those who are couch surfing can change within hours.
The number of Youth in the Valley (between Annapolis Royal and Windsor) who experience homelessness on any given night is estimated to be 70 individuals. See our info graphic
In the last five years, through a multi-agency approach, we have a better understanding of the following:
· The actual numbers of youth that are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The Youth Outreach Program has engaged with a growing number each year that are at risk of being homeless or are homeless. There was 126 youth that were either homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2015/2016. Our Stats were just (March 2017) updated to view go to Home Secure.
· Five to ten youth per night could be accommodated in an youth emergency shelter strategy. There is no emergency youth shelter in the Annapolis Valley. Currently Inn From The Cold (Kentville) and Harvest House (Windsor) can provide emergency accommodation for youth and that is a help but only a temporary relief from the elements.
· The complexity of the family situations that leads to a breakdown like youth homelessness can be prevented. Prevention & early intervention through the work with families is critical.
· Homeless youth are vulnerable to marginalization, sexual exploitation, criminality, abuse, stress, addictions, hopelessness, depression, self-harm, and suicide. The issues become more complicated and acute with each day when a youth is homeless.
· Youth at risk continue to face obstacles in meeting basic needs: shelter, food, health services, and education.
· Youth being at risk is a community problem. Strategies need to include the entire community and based in the local community. The most manageable solutions would be based in each town and village.
· The atmosphere of cooperation of frontline service providers is very supportive and growing in its adaptability and awareness of the problem of youth homelessness.
· Community service providers have consistently agreed that homelessness among youth is a distinct, identifiable problem. If someone is homeless or in an unstable housing situation, the capacity to address other risk factors or deal with past trauma is put off until things can become stabilized.