By: Demii Niles
50% of youth who face homelessness are from middle or upper-income families, 65% of youth have dropped out of school and 77% of youth are unemployed.
United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington were joined by United Way service providers and advocates from across Ontario to discuss the issue of youth homelessness, at the Queens Legislative building last Monday afternoon.
KFL&A talked about their mission to reduce the amount of youth homelessness and young people who have been using the shelter system in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington area.
The discussion talked about what United Way can do to reduce homelessness provincial-wide, how to address root causes and contributing factors, and how best to help youth receive the support that is needed. The United Way decided to focus on homelessness becoming a treatable condition, instead of a chronic one.
Representatives from United Way Hastings & Prince Edward joined the discussion to learn about other provincial initiatives in youth homelessness prevention and see if there were any new or innovative ways to tackle the issue of youth homelessness here locally.
Kristin Wight and Brandi Hodge, representatives from United Way Hastings & Prince Edward attended the event. Brandi Hodge is the Director of Community Engagement and Kristen Wight is the Resource Development Specialist and the Lead Coordinator for the Youth-2-Youth program, which was formed last fall and now falls under United Way Hastings & Prince Edward’s wing. Wight said it is important for youth to be given the proper education, have mentors, mental health and addiction supports. She said the Youth-2-Youth program sparks innovative thinking and works in partnership to find concrete solutions for local problems.
“By funding and running these youth programs, we help alleviate the root causes of poverty and provide hope and opportunity for youth who might have otherwise fallen through the cracks. Youth are our future, and it is incredibly important to ensure they are receiving the necessary resources to thrive,” Wight said
“It has been statistically proven that they are less likely to become homeless.”
The new vision idea was released in the 2018 Report on Youth Homelessness by United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington and focuses on removing barriers that keep youth from accessing sustainable housing. Statistics from the Report on youth homelessness stated that by 2020, 80 per cent of youths who enter the homelessness system in KFL&A will be housed within 30 days.
Representatives from all over Ontario came together, and speakers talked about their personal experiences with homelessness. A youth from Kingston told her lived experience of homelessness and addiction. She spoke about the difference one person can make in someone’s life and how it helped her better herself and get herself back on her feet.
Sophia Kiwala MPP of Kingston and the Islands announced at the Queens Legislative building the government’s plan to invest $50 million over 6 years through the local poverty reduction fund. Ontario is providing more than $16 million to 46 projects to communities across Ontario. Almost $3 million of the $60 million is supported projects related to homelessness. Ontario is investing $17 billion over four years to delivery accessible or better care for individuals who experience mental illness or addiction at any stage of life.
The report outlines that they will be focusing their attention where it is most needed surrounding; homelessness prevention, integrated system of care, more housing options and regional options for rural youth.
Demii Niles is an intern at United Way Hastings & Prince Edward from the Loyalist College Journalism Program. She lives an active lifestyle keeps engaged with the community and on her own time writes and helps people when she can.