Leading Canadian scholars speak out about youth homelessness

York will host a panel experts on youth homelessness Friday as part of a celebratory launch of a free new e-book looking at how to effectively respond to youth in crisis and prevent them from turning to the streets.

Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice will launch April 26, from 2 to 4pm, in the Harry Crowe Room, 109 Atkinson Building, Keele campus. HomlessnessEveryone is welcome to attend. The panel discussion will also be broadcast live via webinar. A limited number of print copies will be available for purchase for $22 at the event (cash only).

“The thought of ending youth homelessness can feel like an impossible task given the overwhelming scope of the problem and its apparent complexity. However, a lot is known about effectively responding to youth homelessness,” writes York education Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN) and co-editor of Youth Homelessness in Canada, in the book’s concluding chapter.

A mature and developed response to homelessness ideally involves a stronger emphasis on prevention, strategies that move people quickly out of homelessness, as well as support by emergency services that bridge the gap, he says.

The e-book features leading Canadian scholars sharing key findings from their research on youth homelessness. It highlights the policy and practice implications of their research and how it can inform the efforts of those working on the frontlines of youth homelessness. The goal of Youth Homelessness in Canada is to fill a gap in the StephenGaetzinformation available about youth homelessness by providing an easily accessible collection of the best Canadian research and policy analysis in the field.

Stephen Gaetz

In addition to Gaetz, the book is co-edited by  Bill O’Grady of the University of Guelph, Kristy Buccieri of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Jeff Karabanow of Dalhousie University and Allyson Marsolais, project manager of the CHRN. Three of the book’s contributors will showcase their research at the launch.

Alex (Ilona) Abramovich, a doctoral candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and contributor of the chapter “No Fixed Address: Young, Queer, & Restless”, will talk about how LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented among homeless youth. Abramovich, who is investigating the changes that need to be implemented in Toronto’s shelter system to make it safer for LGBTQ youth, will address the additional stigma, discrimination and burdens these youth face while on the streets. Currently, there is no formal, mandatory anti-homophobia training for shelter staff. Youth who are subject to acts of hate/violence do not have a reliable, accessible channel in which to lodge for­mal complaints.

Val Tarasuk & Naomi Dachner, who wrote about “Homeless Youth, Nutritional Vulnerability, & Community Food Assistance Programs” for the book, will speak about how homeless youth face extreme nutritional vulnerability due to chronic food deprivation and poor quality of food. They will look at how this can impact not only their nutritional health, but also their social, psychological and emotional well-being. Tarasuk is a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, where Dachner is a study coordinator. Their research looks at food security and access, and points to the need for food to be an integral part of any program for homeless youth.

Stephen Gaetz, author of the chapter, “Ending Youth Homelessness in Canada is Possible: The Role of Prevention”, will discuss how to prevent youth from becoming homeless in the first place. He will also address how to ensure that if they do end up on the streets it is only for a short time, so they do not become mired in homelessness or the street lifestyle.

Youth Homelessness in Canada will be available to the public on April 26. It can be downloaded in an eBook version for free from the Homeless Hub or, for a nominal cost, a print version can be ordered online.