You might not always see it, but youth homelessness does exist in St. Thomas & Elgin County
At any given time, it is estimated that there are approximately 100 homeless youth, ages 16 – 24, living in St. Thomas & Elgin County (Org Code Consulting Inc, 2013). Youth homelessness is often invisible. They often couch surf or stay with friends or family temporarily, often moving from one place to the next without stability and support. In a recent community study on youth homelessness,78% of youth experiencing homelessness reported that family dysfunction and breakdown resulted in their homelessness (2018). Given the stage of development and their previous dependence on adults in their lives for structure, social development and getting their basic needs met, youth experiencing homelessness are often more vulnerable to exploitation, risk and harm than their adult counterparts.
Because of this, the YWCA provides four youth homes and pairs youth within our housing along with those living in the community with a Housing Based Case Manager to improve their housing stability and opportunities for education, employment, positive social relationships, family reunification and improved health and well-being.
What does the program offer?
- A place to call home, private bedrooms
- Communal living spaces
- Onsite peer support
- Housing based case management to actively develop a youth centred support plan
- System navigation and service referrals
- Independent life skills development
- Opportunities for one on one counselling/family reunification supports
- Cooperative living skills
All our supportive and transitional housing programs provide youth with the opportunity to make a healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood. The programs follow a Housing First approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving youth experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing. Below are our 4 youth supportive housing programs based on identified gender and age;
Fairwinds (males 16 – 24 years, 4-bedroom home)
Harmony House (females 16 – 24 years, 4-bedroom home)
Horizon House (females 18 – 24 years, 3-bedroom home)
Unity House (males 18 – 24 years, 3-bedroom home)
Who is Eligible for this program?
Youth who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of becoming homeless, within St. Thomas and Elgin County. The young individuals living within our youth housing are often high school students, working part time and striving to move forward with their lives. Individuals must be open to living communally, and in a community atmosphere. The intake process of youth will follow the Youth Homelessness Protocol.
If you are 25 years or older please visit Supportive Housing for Adults.
Funding provided by
The Voice Behind the Lens
We asked local youth with lived experience “What does homelessness mean to you?”
Using various mediums, including cellphone photography, the youth set out to capture what it was like for them during their experience of homelessness.
The Voice Behind the Lens: The Next Chapter
In 2018, we once again got a group of youth ages 16-24 together and by solely using photography they chose to share with you their personal journeys from Homelessness to finding housing stability.
This proved to be a therapeutic process for many that participated.