Young girl who may be facing homelessness or trafficking in Toronto

The Problem

Every year, thousands of youth experience homelessness and sex trafficking in Canada.

Covenant House provides a safe space for youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk.

Over the last decade, we have seen a shift. More young people are staying with us for longer periods of time. This is because the youth we serve are facing more complex challenges. In addition to abuse, neglect and family breakdown, more youth struggle with mental health, finding affordable housing and getting stable, meaningful jobs.

But there's more to the story.1

Homelessness or trafficking can happen to anyone. However, young people who face added barriers because of disability, sexuality or racial identity are often over-represented. And 59 per cent of youth at Covenant House2 are from average and upper-income households. For them, the street appeared a safer option than staying at home.

These youth are some of the most vulnerable and some of the most resilient. With the right opportunities, they can build a better future.

Boy wearing hoodie while the sun is setting.

Youth homelessness

As many as 40,000 young people in Canada3 experience homelessness every year.

Many find themselves disconnected from the necessary supports or have been part of systems that perpetuate their trauma. The shelter system has become an essential safety net for these youth.

Working together, we address the difficult and complex causes of homelessness. Here's a look at what brings young people to our doors.

Girl leaning against window, silhouetted against the city, reflecting on her sex trafficking past.

Sex trafficking

Young women, with an average age of 17 years old, are the most affected by sex trafficking in Canada. Toronto is a central hub for this crime. One in five homeless youth have experienced some form of human trafficking,4 but it can happen to anyone.

We work hard to help survivors find their way forward. Your help is essential and here's why.

Success stories

Get to know the youth we support. They come from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, religions, sexualities, gender identities and varied experiences with trauma and abuse.

These youth have faced big challenges. They're also big-hearted artists, eager scholars, talented pianists, sports fans, computer geeks, fashion lovers and video gamers. Just like any other young person you'll meet.

Young male wearing orange shirt staring directly into camera.

“For everyone who stays here, it’s not about how we start. It’s all about our future.”

Learn how Marcel thrives today

A teenage girl looking sad.

“Being at Covenant House gives me the ability to work on my mental health while being part of a community. I’m living within society, but with staff to support me.”

Learn how we helped Rachel

A boy with dark brown hair wearing a black hoodie looking serious.

“I always thought, ‘I’m better than what’s happened to me. I’m going to change the world.’”

Learn more about Mark

Young man with a serious facial expression.

“The staff are perfect examples of people who are always there for you. Anytime I stopped by, I had really supportive conversations with everyone. I got help with things like applying to OHIP or advice about school programs.”

Learn how Nathanial got support

How you can help

Be part of the solution. Every donation will make a difference in the life of a young person.

Make a donation

Bring your know-how, your skills and your heart! There are many rewarding ways to volunteer with us.

Become a volunteer

Everyone wants to feel like they make a difference in the world. At Covenant House, you will.

See job postings

Boy in grey hoodie holding a pen and notebook

See the ways Covenant House is tackling the problem

  1. Unless noted otherwise, all statistics in The Problem section represent an overview of youth homelessness and sex trafficking at the national level. Please note that statistics about the youth who stay at Covenant House Toronto may differ due to sample size and demographics.
  2. Statistic is from the Covenant House Toronto Youth Survey (Summer 2019). Derived from an anonymous sample size of 147.
  3. Gaetz, S., O'Grady, B., Kidd, S. and Schwan, K. (2016). Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.
  4. Murphy, L. T. (2016). Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth: A Ten-City Study (p. 3, Rep.). Loyola University New Orleans.