New report on youth homelessness hopes to get the B.C. government’s attention

The representative for children and youth in British Columbia says young people leaving government care have a greater chance at becoming homeless if not given the proper supports.

“Youth homelessness is a serious issue in B.C. and young people who are in government care, or receiving services living in poverty, are some of the most vulnerable to experiencing homelessness due to trauma or displacement or the experiences they’ve had in their young lives,” said Jennifer Charlesworth.

The report called From Marginalized to Magnified: Youth Homelessness Solutions From Those With Lived Expertise was released Feb. 21

The report has one recommendation. It calls on the provincial government “to develop a distinct plan to end youth homelessness and to involve youth with lived expertise in the development of that plan.

“I agree with that recommendation and echo these young peoples’ call for a youth-specific plan to address the issue in B.C.,” Charlesworth said. “I also call on government to include youth in the development of that plan and, as part of that process, to carefully consider the solutions offered in their report.”

The report sheds light on the root causes of youth homelessness including the lack of support after young people age out of the system and the many barriers they face.

Katherine McPharland said the report was written with the help of young people.

“(The report) magnifies the voices of marginalized youth to ensure their expertise is heard it recommends that the government listen to these voices and put in place a provincial plan to end youth homelessness by 2021,” she said.

First Nation leadership council member Robert Phillip said the time line is very ambitious – but he’s encouraging all levels of government, industry and organizations to join the discussion.

“If we all work together we can address and move forward to tackle this issue of homelessness for the youth,” he said. “So in the discussion the action items and then work on them to complete them we might not be able to get all of it done but I think if we tackle it one by one if we can get one kid off the street if we can get one person to have a home I think thats a job well done.”

McPharland said the government is being presented with a great opportunity.

“This report magnifies the voices of 231 marginalized youth to ensure that their lived expertise is heard by government,” McParland said. “B.C. now has an unprecedented opportunity and policy window to develop a plan to eradicate youth homelessness so that no youth is left behind. There is an urgency to this issue. The longer a young person is homeless, the more trauma and victimization they experience. There is no time to wait.”

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