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Peel non-profit sounds alarm over impact of housing crisis on BIPOC youth

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Peel non-profit sounds alarm over impact of housing crisis on youth
A Peel Region non-profit is sounding the alarm tonight about help for displaced teens. REST Centres has been working tirelessly to support BIPOC youth who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness. It’s vital work and as Shallima Maharaj reports its been made more difficult by the soaring cost of housing – Oct 5, 2023

There’s optimism and resilience in Shayesha Steele’s voice, but it hasn’t always been that way.

At the age of 15, she entered the foster care system. She was referred to REST Centres during her first year of university.

“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I’ve been through things that have made me see things in a different way.”

At the time, she was struggling to make ends meet, working overnight shifts, and renting out a small basement apartment.

REST Centres is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising BIPOC youth out of housing insecurity in Peel Region.

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“Once you age out of care, that burden of having to become an adult a lot faster than you probably want to and not really having that choice to explore adulthood the way a normal child would have to, has been a burden,” she explained.

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A recent university graduate, she now has a degree in sociology, and is raising her voice to amplify awareness about housing insecurity and hidden homelessness.

“Hidden homelessness means that they have no stable abode,” said Dagma Koyi, executive director and founder of Brampton-based REST Centres. “They’re pretty much going from one home to another, living precariously, sometimes living in bus shelters for lack of a place to sleep.”

Due to the housing crisis, Koyi says there’s no way REST Centres clients would be housed without having practical supports, such as rental and food subsidies.

Steve Samuels recently became involved with the organization and is renting out one of his properties to youth in need.

“Being in a position where I can now provide for myself, provide for my family and see the effect that it has on my kids and how happy they are, how confident they are, and knowing what it felt like not to have, it was just within me to give back,” he said.

 

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