Half of street youth driven into homelessness

Prevention, early intervention critical

TORONTO, Dec. 15 /CNW/ - Almost half of Toronto's street youth don't want to be homeless - getting help for them early would make a big difference, says a groundbreaking study of Toronto street-involved youth.

Changing Patterns for Street Involved Youth, released jointly by Yonge Street Mission, World Vision Canada and Public Interest, reflects interviews with 208 youth who came from all over Canada and found themselves homeless in Toronto.

"Many youth tell us they just want a home - they're highly motivated but they need help getting there," says Sean Meagher of Public Interest. "The more we can intervene to help youth get back into housing the less likely they'll stay on the streets for years at a time."

Among the study's most striking findings:

    
    -   Almost one in five youth have been on the street for less than three
        months and this period is the most effective time to help them return
        to housing.
    -   Youth who stay on the street for two years are less likely to leave -
        making an intervention within the first two years key to resolving
        the problem.
    -   Most youth who stay on the streets for as long as eight years end up
        trapped because it's all they know and it becomes part of their
        identity.
    -   Immigrant street youth transition back into housing more rapidly.
    -   Sweet 16 isn't so sweet for some: More youth (21%) end up on the
        street at 16 than at any other age, possibly because that's the age
        it becomes legal.
    -   One in four youth leave home before the legal age. The younger they
        are, the more likely their stay on the street will last longer -
        seven years or more.
    -   Almost a third of the street youth interviewed came from other
        provinces; 14.6% came from other parts of Ontario; only 22.7% were
        from the GTA.
    -   Over 40% of street youth experience mental health issues but few are
        able to access mental health services.
    

SOURCE PUBLIC INTEREST

For further information: For further information: media please contact: Trish Hennessy, (416) 525-4927

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