Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) and the City of London are taking another step forward in addressing youth homelessness with the opening of the YOU Housing First Youth Shelter.
Located at 585 Clarke Rd., south of Oxford Street, the new shelter provides a low barrier, trauma-informed model of care for youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
A release from YOU outlined that the age of youth accessing shelters in London is getting younger, with youth making up almost 26 per cent of all homeless individuals in London.
“Many young people in our community experience homelessness and suffer tremendously as a result. This is not acceptable! Without a home, these youth face impossible challenges in building their lives and participating in our community,” said Steve Cordes, CEO of Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
“With this investment, YOU will have the resources needed to help many of London’s youth see hope, find homes and achieve their full potential.”
The shelter is pet friendly, with each resident getting their own room and six of 30 the rooms being disability accessible.
YOU said many of these youth are victims themselves, with 76 per cent experiencing at least two forms of abuse in their lives.
Speaking at the opening, a representative with YOU said youth who are homeless usually deal with some level of trauma, so it was important they all have their own safe space at the shelter.
Other features of the shelter include private shared washrooms, an outdoor area for pets to play, and an area where residents can grow their own vegetables.
YOU said the shelter will link those staying there with YOU’s housing, education, training and employment program to support them with what they need to overcome homelessness. The location is also close to several essential services, YOU said.
“Londoners have done an excellent job at flattening the curve when it comes to COVID-19, and now it’s time to help flatten another curve,” says London Mayor Ed Holder.
“Youth homelessness is an issue we need to focus on, and thanks to the YOU shelter and its dedicated staff, young people of our community who are struggling can access resources they need to move forward. We are proud to be able to be a part of flattening this very important curve.”
To help address youth homelessness in 2017, the City of London selected YOU to build the youth-only shelter and provided funding to the tune of $1.3 million.
The remainder of the funds came from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. with a commitment of $2.9 million and community donations totalling $7.1million.
“I am excited to see the YOU Housing First Youth Shelter open and already helping at-risk youth turn their lives around, especially at a time when housing is so central to our well-being,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister responsible for CMHC.