Canadian Definition of Youth Homelessness

“Youth homelessness” refers to the situation and experience of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, but do not have the means or ability to acquire a stable, safe or consistent residence.

Youth homelessness is a complex social issue because as a society we have failed to provide young people and their families with the necessary and adequate supports that will enable them to move forward with their lives in a safe and planned way. In addition to experiencing economic deprivation and a lack of secure housing, many young people who are homeless lack the personal experience of living independently and at the same time may be in the throes of significant developmental (social, physical, emotional and cognitive) changes. As a result, they may not have the resources, resilience, education, social supports or life skills necessary to foster a safe and nurturing transition to adulthood and independence. Few young people choose to be homeless, nor wish to be defined by their homelessness, and the experience is generally negative and stressful.

Youth homelessness is the denial of basic human rights and once identified as such, it must be remedied. All young people have the right to the essentials of life, including adequate housing, food, safety, education and justice.

Endorse the definition

By endorsing the Canadian Definition of Youth Homelessness you are supporting a common definition that provides all levels of government and community groups with a framework for understanding youth homelessness, and a means for identifying goals, strategies and interventions, as well as measuring outcomes and progress. E-mail us at to add your support.

Add your support

The Canadian Definition of Youth Homelessness is endorsed by:

"Bannock Lady", Winnepeg, Manitoba
Aldeli Albán Reyna, YWCA Canada
Alex J. Bell
Alfred Goodearle- Director, Housing and Properties- Support and Housing, Halton, ON
Allyson Marsolais, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness; Homeless Hub 
Amanda Buchnea, Public Good Initiative 
Amanda Wright
Amber Aleman, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Andrea Gunraj, Eva's Initiative for Homeless Youth 
Anita Palepu, University of British Columbia
Ann Decter, YWCA Canada
Ann Hayden
Anne Smith, United Way Oakville
Art Tsang, Youth Without Shelter
Audrey Findlay- Individual 
Ben Omoregie, Youth Without Shelter, Operations Manager
Benjamin Roebuck, Youth Now Canada
Bernadette (Bernie) Pauly, Centre for Addictions Research of BC, University of Victoria
Betsy Odegaard, Urban League of London
Bonnie Hughes
Bradley Black, Individual - community leader 
Bradly Harris, The Salvation Army
Brandi Hanterman, Fireweed Collective Society
Brenda Halloran, CEO of ComLinked, board member of Supportive Housing of Waterloo
Brent Taylor, PurpleRung Foundation 
Caitlin Boros, Raising the Roof
Candice M. Christmas, York University, PhD Candidate, Health Policy & Equity
Carolann Barr, Raising the Roof
Chad Craig, Five/Fouteen Inc.
Cheryl Forchuk, Western University
Chris Wrightson, Zero Ceiling Society of Canada
Christine Hill-Caballero, United Way, Toronto and York Region
Ciara Devlin, Crisis, United Kingdom
Clara Juando-Prats, St. Michael’s Hospital
Clare Stedman, M.Ed. (counselling Psych.), RCC, CCC, Mental Health Clinician 
Colleen Kerr, City of Surrey, Crime Reduction Strategy Manager
Corinne Sauvé, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa
Dani Mills
Darren Graham, Ottawa Salvation Army
David McAleer, Rod's House 
Davis Z., Community Housing Aotearoa, New Zealand
Deni Milton, Individual 
Denise Beeswax
Diane Entwistle, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, Chief Executive Officer
Dianne McCormack, University of New Brunswick
Don Schweitzer,  Pacific University, Associate Professor, Interim MSW Program Director
Doran Wright, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, School Social Worker 
Doriano Calvano, Manager of Social Policyy & Planning- Simcoe County
Duncan Community Advisory Board
Dylan Ostetto, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Elisa Traficante, Raising the Roof
Eric Tarkington, DeKalb County School System 
Eric Weissman, Ph.D
Erika Morton, Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton, Social Planner - Street Involved Youth Project
Erin Dej, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Eun Ju Lagonia
Frank W. Fraser, Individual - retired 
Gayle Parker,  RN
Gordon Martin, H❤ART project 
Greg MacEachern, Ontario Works
Gregory Goulin, The Windsor Residence for Youth Men
Hirsch Greenberg, University of Regina
Ilyana Keohane, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness 
Ingrid Pereira  
Isolde Daiski, York University
Jackie Powell
Jeanne Messina, CMHA Sudbury/Manitoulin, Intake Worker
Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff, University of Calgary
Jeff Karananow, Dalhousie University
Jesse Donaldson, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Jesse Thistle, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness 
Jo Snyder, Wellesley Institute 
Jo-Ann Coleman Pidskalny, Saskatoon Housing Coalition
Jocelyn Helland, Executive Director of Federation, BC Youth Resource Centre
Joe and Marie Roberts, The Push For Change 
John Ecker, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
John Smith, Support and Housing, Halton, ON
Joyce Klassen, Dementia Care Educator, Alzheimer Society of Manitoba
Joyce Ward, Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness
Judy Leroux, Youth Without Shelter
Jules Nelson
Julia Lucas, Niagara Injured Worker Centre 
Kaitlin Schwan, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Kathrina Kovacs Burns, University of Alberta
Kathryn Kot, McMan Youth Family and Community Services Association, Lethbridge, ABSupervisor- The Youth HUB and Transition to Independence
Kathy Kovacs Bum, ATCO, Edmonton Alberta
Katie Manikas, Brain Injury Association of Durham Region
Katty Gallant, Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, Gander, NL
Kelly Cardinal, John Howard Society in Ottawa
Kelly Masecar-Hall, Canadian Mental Health Association, Housing Outreach Worker
Kevin Koroscil, Siloam Mission Exit Up! Program
Kimberly Uryszvalade
Krista Pozaic
Kristy Townshend, Teacher, Peer Supporter, Youth Advocate, MSW Candidate
Krystle Fountotos, YMCA-YWCA, Second Stage Housing Program for Youth 
Lareina Smith  
Leanne Boutwell, Raising the Roof 
Lena Phillips  
Lesley McMillan, A Way Home
Lisa Pinto
Lisa Vizniowski   
Lori Buchnea, MSW, RSW
Lory Scott, City of St. Albert Housing Liaison
Marie & Joe Roberts,  The Push for Change Foundation 
Marie Ida Ross
Matt Dewar and Sydney Blum, WoodGreen Community Services 
Melanie Redman, A Way Home
Melissa and Arif, CMHA Middlesex
Michelle Malette, Adsum for Women and Children 
Mike Burnett, Youth Without Shelter- Peel Region
Mirella Bryant, Youth Opportunities Unlimited 
MJ Canario, Canadian Mental Health Association, London and Middlesex
Naomi Nichols, McGill University
National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness
Nicole Latour, Alpha Court Non-Profit Housing Inc.
Nicole Lee Kruger, Individual - student 
Nila Fisher
O. Doroszko-Saage,Youth Worker, Roy McMurtry Youth Centre 
Oxana Roudenko, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Pamela Lahey, McMaster University 
Paula Patryluk, Raising the Roof
Paulette Minard, The Home Depot Canada Foundation
Phyllis Goertz, Retired Health Care Manager
Priscilla Michell, Wet'su'wet'en Territory 
Priya Anaokar  
Rachel Ehly, Managing Director, t3
Rachel Nicol-Smith  
Raymond Landry
Rebecca Hays, Youth and Family Support worker, Youth Resource Centre/Abbotsford Community Services
Regina Oppon, Rehoboth Alliance, Fort McMurray 
Rita Thompson, Unifor Local 707
Rob Morris, Phoenix Youth Programs
Roberta Journeay  Outreach Worker for Tri County Women’s Centre, Digby, Nova Scotia
Roger Keil, York University
Ryan Murdoch, United Way, London amd Middlesex
Sarah Benbow, Western University
Shane Rempel, Calgary Homeless Foundation 
Shannon Littke, Canadian Mental Health Association, Homelinks
Sheldon Pollett, Choices for Youth
Shireen Suleman, York University 
Sheri Lecker, Executive Director, Adsum for Women and Children
Sophia Taylor, Executive Director, Peel/Halton Co-operative Housing Federation 
Stephanie Matches, Zero Ceiling Society of Canada
Stephanie Vasko, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Stephen Gaetz, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Steve Arnett, Nanaimo Youth Services Association
Susan McGee, Homeward Trust, Edmonton
Susan Spring, Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation
Suzie H, Women's Community House 
Tanya Hebron- Individual
Tara Everitt, National Learning Community
Tashauna Knutson, Okanagan Boys and Girls Club
Ted Hildbrandt, Community Development, Halton, ON
Ter Kin, The New Bullying Prevention 
Terri Gillis  
Terri Whitford, Salvation Army 
The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition
Threshold Housing Society of Victoria, BC
Tim Aubry, University of Ottawa
Tim Richter, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
Trudie Duckworth 
Uzo Anucha, York University
Victoria Szakall, Ontario Works, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
Vivian Adine Guglietti, Steps Recovery 
Vulcan Regional Food Bank Society 
Wendy McHenry, John Howard Society in Ottawa
William O'Grady, University of Guelph
Willy Noiles, Country Lane Co-operative Home & Injured Worker Centre St. Catharines 
Yale D. Belanger, University of Lethbridge
Yan Hebert
Pearl Kealing, Abbotsford British Columbia

Last updated: February 13, 2019

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