Homelessness Action Week (HAW) is a great time to think about those who have very different days than you: youth experiencing homelessness.
Think of a teenager you know. If you were to ask them how their day was, would they talk about having to find food? Getting access to basic necessities? Securing a place to sleep?
On any given day, the youth coming to Directions Youth Services need to think about these things.
For HAW, we spoke with youth and workers from Directions to learn about the kinds of things they feel and face day to day. From inadequate food access and housing insecurity, to being victims of theft and witnessing the impacts of the poisoned drug supply, the Today I campaign highlights the positive and negative experiences of these vulnerable – and resilient – young people.
felt like the world was against me.
asked for help.
had a safe place to sleep.
felt like somebody cared.
had nowhere to go.
got paid for my work.
held onto hope.
Every victory has its counterpart: a safe place to sleep means that isn’t always a given; feeling like someone cared means a youth hasn’t always had that support. At Directions, our work is all about trying to make sure youth know they’re cared for and giving them a safe place to build the life they want.
Pathways to Homelessness
No youth chooses to be homeless. And many circumstances can lead to being unhoused: family conflict or violence, high rents and low wages, mental health conditions, marginalization, and more. Most of the youth we serve face one or more forms of discrimination. They’re often racialized and experience the systemic impacts of racism. Many have been met with hostility or rejection because of their sexuality or gender identity.
On any given night, about 1 in 4 youth experiencing homelessness are sleeping outside or in makeshift shelters, including tents, cars, and abandoned buildings. But youth homelessness also includes those who are couch-surfing, as well as those in a shelter, safe house, or transition house.
Data from a 2018 study by The Greater Vancouver Steering Committee on Homelessness (RSCH) indicates that, across Greater Vancouver:
of homeless youth identify as male
are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community
Beyond the data, we meet youth where they’re at with individualized supports. Our youth workers treat every youth as the individual they are – each with their own history and their own goals, hobbies, and dreams.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure youth live longer and happier and have a better chance.”
– Danielle, Housing and Life Skills Worker
Let’s take action.
So how do we help youth live longer and happier lives? How do we give young people a better chance? Issues as complex as youth homelessness can be overwhelming to think about and difficult to talk about. Raising awareness is essential. Please share this campaign with your friends, family, and coworkers.
Ready to do more?
Download our resource guide to learn about how YOU can make a difference.
The best thing you can do to support youth experiencing homelessness is fund the work of organizations who are on the ground with vulnerable youth.
With your support, we can continue to provide essential services to more than 1,000 unhoused young people every year. That means these youth can find safety from the streets, receive medical care, find long-term housing support, and much, much more. Learn more about how we support youth every day at directionsyouthservices.ca.
$50 replaces a youth’s birth certificate.
$100 feeds a youth for a full week.
$250 provides hygiene supplies, including socks and underwear, for 10 young people.