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'Housing First' fails homeless youth: report

By: The Canadian Press

 | Apr 21, 2014 - 12:43 PM |
An estimated 30,000 Canadians sleep on the streets every night. File photo.

An estimated 30,000 Canadians sleep on the streets every night. File photo.

OTTAWA - A forthcoming new report says the success of so-called "housing first" programs could have a limited impact on young Canadians living on the streets.

The report warns against what it calls the "Housing First Jr." approach, saying youth homelessness demands a unique focus on the developmental, social and legal needs of young people.

The report, obtained by The Canadian Press, was written by York University professor Stephen Gaetz and is part of the so-called "Homeless Hub" series of reports on homelessness in Canada.

An estimated 30,000 Canadians sleep on the streets every night.

The Conservative government is focused on the Housing First strategy, which the Mental Health Commission of Canada says is showing concrete results in five cities.

But Gaetz says it remains an open question whether that approach works for homeless youth.

Some researchers have found that the choice and independence offered by Housing First programs are too much to handle for young Canadians with mental health and addiction issues.

Follow Lee-Anne Goodman on Twitter at @leeanne25

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