Historically, communities and governments in Canada and the United States have relied heavily on emergency services and crisis responses to support young people who are homeless. Communities use a range of crisis supports and interventions, including emergency shelters, day programs, and other services, such as law enforcement, which typically do not form a cohesive system. While the language of homelessness prevention is sometimes used in policy circles in North America, it is rarely well-conceptualized and has not been a priority in most jurisdictions. In this report, the case is made that the imbalance of investment in crisis intervention over prevention is highly problematic, especially for the well-being of the young people affected by youth homelessness.

The Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness helps to fill this gap in our knowledge. It is designed to help service providers, policy makers, communities, advocates, and researchers better understand the meaning of youth homelessness prevention through the provision of a clear definition and a common language for policy and practice.

The Roadmap offers guidance on the following:

  • What is youth homelessness prevention, and what is it not?
  • Who is responsible for youth homelessness prevention?
  • What are systems approaches to prevention?
  • What program models and interventions exist?
  • What is the evidence for youth homelessness prevention?

The Roadmap aims to function as a useful guide to the critical role that prevention should play in a comprehensive systems response to youth homelessness, detailing evidence-based and informed program models that will help communities and governments to implement plans to prevent and end youth homelessness. Finally, the Roadmap has been directly informed by consultations with youth who have experienced homelessness across Canada. In order to reform our response to youth homelessness, it is critical that youths’ voices, experiences, insights, and wisdom are the cornerstone of the work.

Authors: Stephen Gaetz, Kaitlin Schwan, Melanie Redman, David French, & Erin Dej
Published By: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press
Publication Date: 2018
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