Trent students want peers to say ‘yes’ to YES to end youth homelessness

Click to play video 'Trent Students asking others to vote yes for YES' Trent Students asking others to vote yes for YES
Watch: A group of students is asking for a $3 student levy to help raise money for Peterborough's Youth Emergency Shelter – Mar 14, 2018

A group of Trent students is seeking a $3 levy to help fund Peterborough’s Youth Emergency Shelter (YES).

“For 25 cents a month, we can make a real discernible difference in this community, and you don’t get that opportunity very often,” said Shannon Culkeen, one of the students organizing, “Vote ‘Yes’ for YES.”

Trent’s 9,000 students vote on student levies during student elections. The levy would be tacked onto a student’s bill alongside other costs like tuition and administration fees.

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Culkeen says she took a look at what students were paying for, and said she noticed something missing.

“There was a gap in that we didn’t fund any initiatives that worked to end youth homelessness, and I thought, I care deeply about that, so I thought other Trent students would as well,” Culkeen said.

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The contribution of $3 a year works out to about 25 cents a month per student.

READ MORE: Poverty group wants Peterborough to fund more shelter space

But for the Youth Emergency Shelter, it would amount to thousands of dollars in annual funding, as much as $23,000 each year.

“It would be a big deal,” said shelter executive director Meagan La Plante.

She said the money would go to the shelter’s transitional housing program, geared toward teens 16 to 18 years old.

“We currently don’t have any sustainable funding for it,” she said. “So what that means is that we rely on fundraised dollars and the generosity of the community to ensure that the program should continue to run.”

La Plante said teens involved in the transition program live in a separate home away from the shelter, working with mentors before moving out on their own.

“They live there for a year working and moving forward on their goals,” La Plante said.

READ MORE: Affordable housing situation in Peterborough examined following federal announcement

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“And the really neat thing is they often become the future post-secondary students at Trent and Fleming in Peterborough, so it’s a neat connection.”

Students are voting on the proposed levy this week.

Culkeen’s group will find out if they’ve been successful by Friday afternoon. She was optimistic that the student body would feel as strongly as they do.

“I think Trent students, more than ever, need to realize what sorts of things we can do in this community, if we say ‘yes,'” Culkeen said.