B.C. youth in care to receive $600 rent supplement to prevent homelessness

Kermode Friendship Society says payments are great but youth need more support

Nearly 800 youth transitioning out of government care will start receiving $600 a month in rent supplement from the B.C Ministry of Children and Families.

A youth program coordinator praised the move but said more will be needed.

“Having $600 to cover the cost of living is absolutely necessary,” said Angela Genaille of the Kermode Friendship Society, a non-profit based in Terrace, B.C.

“Potentially they are going to need more supplements; the cost of living in Terrace and throughout Canada is skyrocketing.”

The B.C. government, in announcing the funding, said youth in care are at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness.

Genaille agreed.

She said youth are having to choose which basic need to meet.

“Youth aren’t having enough money to buy food,” Genaille said. “It’s either they can buy food or pay rent.”

Mitzi Dean, minister of children and family development in B.C, acknowledged finding and securing housing is a stressful challenge.

“We are focused on doing even more to make sure every young person who transitions from care has the supports they need to succeed, “ Dean said in a news release Thursday.

The B.C. government announced last spring it would spend $35 million over three years to support young people transitioning into adulthood. Forty-four percent of the youth receiving supplemental funding identify as Indigenous, the release noted.

Genaille feels Indigenous cultural funding is essential to help Indigenous youth in care transition successfully.

“They need to provide the support to cover things like ceremony or those cultural programs,” she said of the government. “… Attending feasts or having those cultural connections bring that sense of belonging and that sense of identity [that] is super important in anyone’s development.”

B.C. said funding for youth to access life, culture and skills training is set to begin next year. The rental supplement program will open to new applications in the spring.

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