The Home Depot Canada Foundation has announced a three-year, $10 million initiative to address the problem of youth homelessness in Canada.
In addition to matching homeless youth with employment opportunities, the initiative will provide support for drop-in centers, shelters, and infrastructure for permanent housing. Funds also will be used to support new research designed to provide better evidence-based data on the circumstances and needs of homeless youth in Canada, and to establish an advisory council of experts and a youth advisory council.
In conjunction with the announcement — and Canada's first national Conference on Ending Homelessness — the foundation has issued a white paper, Homelessness in Canada: A Context for Action (7 pages, PDF), which argues that focusing on homeless youth, who account for 20 percent of Canada's homeless population, is critical to addressing the homelessness crisis. "By reaching homeless youth early and providing them with housing solutions and effective supports, preferably before they have been on the streets for more than two years," the report notes, "there is a greater likelihood they will not become chronically homeless adults."
"I cannot recall any large corporation ever making that very of specific kind of target to one population. So that's pretty outstanding," said Joanne Lowe, executive director of Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, which provided emergency shelter to about five hundred people under the age of 24 last year and recently received a grant from the Home Depot Canada Foundation to upgrade its showers. With the foundation's latest commitment, "[i]t feels as though things are lining up in the right direction" to give youth opportunities to gain meaningful employment, added Lowe.