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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Addressing youth homelessness in Orillia

Orillia | by Ian MacLennan  

Director of Orillia Youth Centre says the issues are complex and requires looking at a whole spectrum of services.

The Director of the Orillia Youth Centre says tackling youth homelessness is more than just a shelter issue.

Kevin Gangloff says it's complex and requires looking at a whole spectrum of services.

Earlier this week,  Gangloff addressed city council committee to present a third report on the matter,  a culmination of several years of work done by the Youth Opportunities Commitee.

Gangloff says they have put forward a whole host of options and recommendations for consideration.

He says it's critical when someone is in crisis that they get the services now so they don't  become homeless,  and if they are homeless, to give that individual  the best services to move them out of that as quickly as possible,  and what services are needed to support them if they are no longer experiencing homelessness.

The YOC's work included a survey of 1,800 youth,   and more than 100 identified as being homeless,  something Gangloff says is a huge number in Orillia.

300 youth knew someone in Orillia that was homeless and almost 1,000 of those asked said Orillia needs a youth shelter.

Recent numbers show 1 in 3 people using emergency shelter services in the County of Simcoe are youth between 16 and 24 years of age.

Gangloff says sending youth out of the community for emergency housing is not ideal but it's often the only option, whether it's to Youth Haven in Barrie, or to shelters in Sutton and Newmarket.

He says a homeless youth that has network of peers that they try to stay connected with or they want to try to stay as part of their community, he doesn't blame them for refusing to go somewhere else.

Gangloff says unlike an large urban area, there is hidden homeless in Orillia, where youth are couch surfing, sleeping in abandoned buildings or in people's sheds in backyards.

The OYC's reports will be forwarded to the Affordable Housing Committee,  with an expectation that the committee will come back to council with suggestions on how to move forward.

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