The annual Camp Out to End Youth Homelessness, held in December, raised $52,000 for A Way Home Kamloops’ Safe Suites initiative.
On Dec. 14, more than 60 people of all ages and sectors spent the night in cardboard boxes to raise funds for Safe Suites, the doors of which are scheduled to open in the spring.
Last year, A Way Home Kamloops had 113 youth, ages 13 to 25, at risk of or experiencing homelessness referred to the Kamloops Youth Housing First Wrapforce program.
“There has been an increase in the number of youth experiencing street homelessness over the past year and an urgent need to act,” said Katherine McParland, executive director of A Way Home Kamloops Society.
“In 2018, three youth on A Way Home Kamloops’ Housing waiting list passed away. These three vulnerable youth passed away without being able to access the housing option and supports they needed safe suites.”
Safe Suites is a bridge from the streets to housing with built-in supports for those between the ages of 18 and 24 Youth will have access to a full range of 24/7 trauma-informed, supportive interventions and services geared so youth who are chronically homeless may reach achievable long-term housing options.
The Wrapforce program is composed of 16 organizations that have pledged in-kind wraparound services to support youth to achieve a sense of belonging in the community.
“The young people who will come to Safe Suites will find open doors and an opportunity to transcend the streets,” McParland said, noting research shows the longer a youth is homeless, the more trauma, victimization and exploitation they will experience.
“There is a need to intervene quickly and provide youth with access to housing first with the immediate supports they need to stabilize and flourish,” she said. “The same interventions or housing options that are developed to meet the needs of homeless adults may not support youths’ distinct needs. Safe Suites will be responsive to young people’s distinct developmental needs. Because of our community, we will bridge the gap for the most vulnerable youth in Kamloops and ensure every young person has a way home.”