A youth-led youth homelessness research report has been sent by multiple Penticton groups to the provincial and federal governments, as well as other agencies, and includes a personal plea for action.
The No Where to Go: A report from the Youth Homelessness Research Project, remains an active blueprint for change, according to a news release from the City on Thursday.
Back in early 2020, the city applied for and was successful in receiving a grant from the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC).
From there, the youth homelessness survey was approved to be submitted in Penticton's schools, where a quarter of the 264 youth who completed the survey revealed they had been homeless or faced housing insecurity before.
“We are in a crisis. Perhaps it does not personally affect you or your constituents; however it puts the lives of our youth at risk and harm, and their futures become derailed and uncertain because of the social problems of housing,” begins the letter from a youth with lived experience of homelessness included in the package.
Penticton City Council and partners unanimously supported the report – which was led by youth - in February 2022 and continue to move forward with the recommendations in the report.
"By sending the report to higher levels of government, the City is fulfilling a recommendation from youth in the report, and is encouraging collaboration to increase the supports and solutions available for Penticton youth," the press release states.
“We know the status quo is no longer an option. We need your help in supporting early prevention and intervention efforts to ensure no young person is ever left alone in our community,” Kim Conroy and Melisa Edgerly wrote, who co-chaired the committee that supported the development of No Where to Go.
The entire package has been delivered to the provincial ministries of health, housing, mental health and addictions, children and families, education, advanced education and public safety.
The urgency of the situation was reinforced by the conclusion of the letter from the youth, who has been kept anonymous.
“The youth of today will be the leaders and change makers of our future and they are left with nowhere to go; our homeless population were once our youth and we have failed them. This cycle must be broken, and we must come from a place of community, and a place of understanding of how we got here. Let’s give our youth safety, security, respect and a future.
“But what would I know, I’m a youth after all.”
Copies were also sent to the federal minister of housing and the federal housing advocate, as well as to BC Housing, Interior Health and Canada Mortgage and Housing.
What is needed most for the community is the emergency youth beds and emergency youth housing, with just two beds available in all of Penticton for youth struggling with homelessness.
100 More Homes, the collaborative group of community partners addressing housing and homelessness in Penticton, is leading the implementation of No Where to Go as part of the three-year Memorandum of Understanding the group signed with the City on April 5, 2022.