56% of homeless youth in Kamloops identify as Indigenous

The 2018 Kamloops Youth Homelessness Count Report delves beyond the numbers from the city’s second youth homelessness count, which took place a year ago and found that 136 youth identified as experiencing homelessness between May 2017 and May 2018

Indigenous youth are over-represented among homeless youth in Kamloops, a report released Thursday reveals.

The 2018 Kamloops Youth Homelessness Count Report delves beyond the numbers from the city’s second youth homelessness count, which took place a year ago and found that 136 youth identified as experiencing homelessness between May 2017 and May 2018.

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A Way Home Kamloops executive director Katherine McParland, one of several community partners involved, said some sub-populations are more at risk of youth homelessness.

Of 136 homeless youth counted last year, 56 per cent of them Identified as indigenous.

“I think there’s a historical piece of colonization and intergenerational trauma, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are really telling us to stand up and really support those organizations that are doing very important work to connect youth to their culture,” McParland said.

LGBTQ2S+ youth are also at risk, in addition to those living in unsafe situations.

The top reasons for youth homelessness are family conflict, substance use, unsafe housing, eviction, jail and an inability to afford rent.

McParland said themes also emerged related to youth living in the child welfare system.

“Probably the most interesting thing that I learned was the young people that are under 19 experiencing homelessness, while receiving a youth agreement through the ministry of child and family development,” she said.

“I think it shows that our provincial government should consider housing as part of that program, as youth face so many barriers to actually securing housing when they’re under 19.”

Other gaps identified in the report include affordable housing geared specifically at youth, with supports.

Additional recommendations outlined in the report included money to help bridge the affordable housing gap, prevention initiatives, support services geared at indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ youth and employment and education supports.

Listening to youth was also underscored as a priority.

McParland sees a role for the federal, provincial and local governments.

The province has the most significant role and she continues to advocate for a provincial plan to end youth homelessness, meeting with the province monthly.

“A lot of the pathways to youth homelessness, such as young people coming out of corrections, coming out of the foster care system, are connected to provincial ministries,” she said, noting 10 provincial ministries are linked to the problem.

“I think they have a real opportunity.”

The next youth homelessness count will take place in 2020.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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