Empty dark street.

Youth Homelessness

A shy teenage girl in an empty alley.

Youth homelessness in Canada is a reality

Twenty per cent of Canada’s1 homeless population consists of young people between the ages of 13 to 24,2 and up to 6,000 young people experience homelessness every night.3

Most of Canada's young homeless population gravitate to big cities, but homelessness also occurs in other communitiesit's just less visible. And the problem starts early. Forty per cent of homeless youth first experience homelessness before the age of 16.4

We serve youth between 16 to 24 years old: a critical time for intervention, and a chance to change a young person's life.

Homelessness happens for a range of reasons

Youth who are homeless find themselves disconnected from the necessary supports and systems. Many have been part of systems that perpetuate their trauma. The shelter system becomes a stop-gap for these young people.

of homeless youth indicated abuse and neglect as the primary reasons they left home.5

of homeless youth reported some involvement with child welfare in the past.6

Many youth who are homeless face other barriers

The young people below are often over-represented in the homeless population because of discrimination.

  • 50% of youth who are homeless identify as LGBTQ2S+7
  • 30% identify as indigenous 8
  • 28% identify as being part of racialized communities9
A young man looking tired and hungry.

Homelessness takes a toll on young lives

As much as 85 per cent of homeless youth have experienced a mental health crisis,10 and 42 per cent reported at least one suicide attempt.11

The stress of homelessness impacts a young person's ability to concentrate on school, maintain a job and reach their true potential.

Fifty-three per cent of homeless youth drop out of school12 as life stressors become too pressing to concentrate on education. And 75 per cent of homeless youth are unemployed,13 a reflection of the challenges in gaining and maintaining work while living on the street.

A hopeful young woman with piercings.

Learn how youth find a home at Covenant House.

References
  1. Unless noted otherwise, all statistics in this section represent an overview of youth homelessness 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. Gaetz, S., Gulliver, T., & Richter, T. (2014). The State of Homelessness in Canada: 2014. Toronto: The Homeless Hub Press
  3. Gaetz, S., Dej, E., Richter, T., & Redman, M. (2016). The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press
  4. Gaetz, S., Dej, E., Richter, T., & Redman, M. (2016). The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press
  5. 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.
  6.  to 13: Ibid