In December 2010, ten youth aged 19-27 who had experience of homelessness within the Metro Vancouver region came together with a project facilitator to form the Youth Action Squad (YAS). The goal of the YAS was to foster inclusion of homeless youth voices in a respectful, non-judgemental and non-stigmatizing manner. From December 2010 to May 2011 the group delved into the issue of youth homelessness, sharing their own stories and conducting five focus groups with other youth in the region who had experienced homelessness. Based on this rich collection of stories and ideas, the YAS team gave presentations to key stakeholders through out the region, such as BC Housing, sharing their personal experiences of homelessness and advocating for youth-driven solutions to end homelessness. The youth also completed a community-based photography project, presenting the work at the ‘In our Backyard’ show. The photos throughout this report are from this project.
The youth experience of homelessness is unique and in many ways distinct from the adult experience of homelessness. By sharing their stories with key stakeholders throughout the Greater Vancouver region, the YAS brought a different lens to the issue of homelessness, highlighting the experience of youth. This report continues that work. It is a sharing of stories and ideas from a youth perspective for our community to learn from and act upon with the goal of making change. In an effort to respect the words of the youth, all stories included in these pages are unedited and uncensored. The report is composed of four parts. Part I discusses the pathways of youth into homelessness; Part II explores the experience of youth homelessness; Part III highlights youth-generated ideas to address and prevent homelessness; and Part IV concludes with youth-driven recommendations for policy and practice.
Be sure to check out the YAS in action, telling their stories and engaging in dialogue with decision makers and community members! A short video can be found here.