Kamloops youth facing housing insecurities need more support - InfoNews

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Kamloops youth facing housing insecurities need more support

A Way to End Youth Homelessness committee manager Katherine McParland says young people transitioning from life on the streets need a stable environment with 24/7 staff support.
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May 01, 2018 - 4:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Volunteers are getting ready to hit the streets next week in the second youth homelessness count in Kamloops.

A Way Home Committee to End Youth Homelessness conducted the first count last year. The committee’s manager Katherine McParland, who has experienced homelessness firsthand, says these counts are important to initiate change and prevent homelessness among youth in the city.

Last year the survey count revealed 129 young people who had experienced some form of homelessness. McParland says the homeless count will also shed light on the different types of homelessness youth may face and not be aware of it.

“A lot of young people may not even realize what they are experiencing,” McParland says. “I think one of the most important things about the count is the hidden nature of youth homelessness."

McParland says the committee has also partnered with the School District No. 73 in an effort to understand the different levels of youth homelessness.

“We have partnered with the school district and Grade 10 students will get an opportunity to complete a survey to better understand youth at risk of housing insecurities,” McParland says.

During next week’s count, McParland says some of the key questions volunteers will ask youth experiencing homelessness are based on sexual orientation and culture.

“Understanding the demographic helps us form prevention initiatives and uncover the connection to foster care systems,” McParland says.

She says they plan to have a transitional housing unit for youth experiencing housing insecurities sometime this year.

“This is housing for youth that have complex mental health issues, substance issues and young people who have never lived independently on their own,” McParland says.

In 2016, a pilot project was launched where four young people experiencing homelessness were given housing with limited support staff available during the day, she says, but they found out quickly that when staff left for the day, the youth continued to face challenges related to homelessness.

“When we did our pilot, youth were still unsafe,” McParland says. “When staff went home at night, the streets came in."

The hope is by having staff available 24/7 it will create a safety barrier.

“We really want to help build that bridge and create that distance from the streets and help youth leave that negative street life,” she says.

Next week’s homelessness count events will start on Tuesday, May 8 and run until Thursday, May 10. Volunteers will walk the streets surveying youth and the committee will also have booths set up in areas commonly visited by young people.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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