The Alberta Government is pleased to be a partner in A Way Home: A National Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. This issue is one of local, provincial and national concern, and advancing this dialogue can help us achieve our shared goal of preventing youth homelessness.
The Government of Alberta will increase our efforts to address homelessness. Albertans from specialized groups, including homeless youth, face challenging issues and need targeted responses. Alberta’s plan to reduce youth homelessness is consistent with our efforts around homelessness and is integral to the work of communities across the province. The youth plan is the next step in Alberta’s response to homelessness.
The causes of youth homelessness are complex. Economic and social factors, particularly those related to coming out as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Two Spirited to one’s family, mental health and addiction issues or family violence can place immense pressure on families and individuals. Our youth plan aims to address the unique needs of young people, and underscores the importance of strengthening families first, by bringing them back together. Importantly, the plan strives to support healthy transitions to adulthood.
Historically, Alberta has addressed youth homelessness through the lens of emergency response. Emergency services are necessary, but they cannot effectively reduce youth homelessness alone. Alberta’s youth plan identifies new ways to house homeless youth by shifting the focus to prevention and supports. We can more effectively move homeless youth into stable, longer term housing with the specialized supports they need through this shift in priorities. Funding has been provided to 12 Alberta communities to support this change. Examples include:
- In Calgary, the Boys and Girls Club’s Aura Host Homes Program gives young people a safe place to live where their sexual orientation and gender identity is respected and celebrated.
- The Ground Level Youth Centre in Peace River is enhancing outreach and supports to youth that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless using a wraparound approach that includes school, families and community.
- Homeward Trust Edmonton is developing and implementing youth hubs which will serve as a community-based point for homeless youth to ensure they receive quick access to housing, supports and services.
The youth plan emphasizes alignment across government programs and systems. The plan engages communities, parents and young people, and sets provincial direction for our response to the issue. As we move forward, we have an opportunity to further refine our approach to ensure it continues to support and align with other provincial efforts. Our government will keep building upon effective community-based services and evidence-based practice to do this.
Responding to youth homelessness requires hard work, commitment and leadership from government, communities, homeless-serving agencies and the private sector. We will continue to monitor and fine-tune best practices, information and investments. The path away from youth homelessness will be built upon a foundation of strong families, housing options that meet their unique needs, training and employment and community engagement. Homeless youth need reliable, uninterrupted services and wraparound supports to be healthy and successful.
The Alberta Government recognizes the value of collective efforts to end youth homelessness in Canada, and is proud to be a partner with A Way Home to advance this important work.