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Housing street youth: a Vancouver case study Stefanoff, Genya Jennifer Anne 1994

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HOUSING STREET YOUTH: A VANCOUVER CASE STUDYbyGENYA JENNIFER ANNE STEFANOFFB.E.S. (Honours, Co-op) The University ofWaterloo, 1992A THESIS SUBMITTED 1N PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTS (PLANN1NG)mTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSchool of Community and Regional PlanningWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNWERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1994© Genya Jennifer Anne Stefanoff 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)DepartIent of-/L&I/7Y ‘tED 2L.vqAJ/A4C7The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate /9./DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThe purpose of this thesis is to examine the housing environment faced by street youth in the Cityof Vancouver. It seeks to understand the housing needs of street youth, to identify the barriersencountered in accessing housing, to identify and evaluate their housing options, and to examinethe provincial and municipal government roles in providing housing for street youth.This thesis defines a street youth as an individual between the ages of 12 and 18 who has eitherchosen to leave or been thrown out of their family home for a minimum of two days, is involved instreet related activities, and sleeps in inappropriate accommodations or has no shelter at all. Theterms street youth and homeless youth are used interchangeably because the qualities which areabsent from an individual’s living environment - privacy, security, stability and access to supportservices - are also absent from the various living situations in which street youth find themselves.The methodology undertaken to complete this thesis is a literature review and a case study ofVancouver’s street youth. The literature review provides background information on the generalsubject of homelessness, and specifically, the reasons why youth choose to live a life on the streetand the lifestyle they lead once on the street. The empirical component of the research consists ofinterviews with service providers and street youth.The interview results clearly reveal that two interrelated problem areas exist in the broad issue ofstreet youth and housing. These areas are first, the state care system, both its form and manner ofservice provision, and second, accessibility to market housing - social, economic and political11factors which affect a youth’s ability to secure housing. An issue common to both problem areas,and perpetuating the problems in each, is the lack of value and respect society gives to youth.A ‘continuum of housing’ model is proposed which takes into account the family backgroundsconmion to many street youth, the types of lifestyle they lead while on the street, and the problemsassociated with state-provided and market housing. In addition, recommendations are providedwhich centre on advocacy and service-coordinating bodies, attitude changes, additional housingfacilities, landlord-tenant relationships, government assistance eligibility criteria, and funding.111TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT.iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ivACKNOWLEDGMENTS viiPREFACE 1CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 21.1 Purpose 21.2 Method 51.3 Limitations 61.4 Organization 7CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDiNG WHO ARE THE HOMELESS 92.1 Introduction 92.2 What is Homelessness? 92.3 Who is a Street Youth9 112.4 The Extent of Homelessness 142.5 Why they turn to the Street 16a. Runners from ... intolerable home environments 17b. Runners to ... adventure 20c. Throwaways 21d. Absconders from care 22e. Curb-kids 23f.Insandouts 232.6 Where do they come from? 242.7 Where do they go9 252.8 Life on the Street 26a. Lack of Education 28b. Lack of Traditional Employment Skills 29c. High Incidence of Transiency 29ivd. Lack of Living Skills .31e. Physical Health Problems 32f. Substance Abuse 34g. Mental Health Problems 34h. Involvement in Criminal Activities 35i. Violence 35j. Peer Relationships 36k. Prostitution 371. Criminal Activity 39m. Drug Dealing 39n. Panhandling 40o. Summary 40CHAPTER 3: BACKGROUND RESEARCH, GOVERNING BODIES ANDAVAILABLE HOUSING OPTIONS 413.1 Introduction 413.2 A History of Research on Street Youth 41a. Canadian Literature 43b. Reports on Vancouver’s Street Youth 443.3 Provincial Involvement in Housing for Street Youth 48a. The Role of the Ministry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services 49b. The Role of the Ministry of Social Services 50c. Recent Legislative Changes 51d. Vancouver Based Initiatives of the Provincial Ministries 543.4 Municipal Involvement in Housing for Street Youth 563.5 City of Vancouver’s Recent History in Servicing Street Youth 563.6 Housing Options to Street Youth 68a. Ministry-provided Housing 68b. Short-term Accommodation 69c. Long-term Housing 73d. Temporary Accommodation 76e. Self-Financed Market Housing 77Vf. Non-Paid Housing .78g. Outside Services .78h. Leamings from Past Street Youth Housing Experiences 78CHAPTER 4: STREET YOUTH IN VANCOUVER: A STUDY OF THEIRHOUSiNG ENVIRONMENT 814.1 Introduction and Methodology 814.2 The Service Provider’s Perspective 82a. Legislative Policy 83b. The Market Housing Environment 89c. The State-Provided Care System 91d. The Level of Social Development 964.3 The Street Youth’s Perspective 96a. How Youth Live 97b. The Housing Environment 98c. The State Care System 1004.4 Overview of the Interviews 103CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION 1065.1 Summary 1065.2 Recommendations 108a. The State Care System 109b. Benefits and Complexities of State Care Change 122c. Factors Affecting a Youth’s Ability to Access Market Housing 1235.3 Conclusion 127REFERENCES 129APPENDIX A: LIST OF PERSONS INTERVIEWED 132APPENDIX B: SERVICE PROVIDER iNTERVIEW QUESTIONS 133APPENDIX C: YOUTH iNTERVIEW QUESTIONS 135viACKNOWLEDGMENTSI began this thesis out of a feeling that young people should not be living on the street, and I nowend this work with a much fuller understanding of the myriad of struggles street youth face in theirevery day lives. I am indebted to all the people who shared with me their knowledge andexperiences, and provided guidance and encouragement along the way, for without their help, thisthesis could not have been completed.I owe a debt of gratitude to Jill Davidson, a planner with the City of Vancouver, who from thebeginning provided me with research materials, guidance, insightful comments, and mostimportantly, her time. I would also like to thank Dr. Penny Gurstein, my thesis supervisor, for herguidance and reassurance that I was on the right track.I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Christopher Graham who shared with me hisexperiences with street youth, and helped me understand all of what it means to be a street youth.I also owe a sincere thank you to all the service providers and youth I interviewed for the time theygave me talking about an issue close to their heart. Finally, I would like to thank my family, longtime friend Huyen Nguyen, and fellow planning students for the support and encouragement theyprovided during the undertaking of my thesis.vi’PREFACEThey sleep in stairwells or abandoned buildings, huddle on hot air ventsor cram together in tiny hotel rooms.They eat poorly, suffer colds and flu, and turn to theft, panhandling andprostitution to survive.Some of them are fleeing sexual and physical abuse at home, some arerunning away from foster or group homes and some are just drawn tothe freedom and bright lights of the street.They’re homeless kids and they have no place to go.(Kines, Lindsay. ‘Plight of street kids: no safety net to save them.”Vancouver Sun. January 29, 1993, p. Bi, B7.)This is the plight of many street entrenched youth. There are as many reasons for their existenceon the street as there are street youth. For these youth, the fear of living on the street is lessthreatening than the fear of living in their home. It is this population group and their struggle tolocate and secure housing that provides the focus of this thesis.1Chapter 1: Introduction 2CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION1.1 PurposeThe purpose of this thesis is to examine the housing environment faced by street youth in the Cityof Vancouver. It seeks to understand the housing needs of street youth, to identify the barriersencountered in accessing housing, to identify and evaluate their housing options, and to examinethe provincial and municipal govermnent roles in providing housing for street youth.Homelessness is a global problem. It affects both young and old, singles and families, and peopleof all races. An accurate enumeration of homeless people does not exist either at a global, nationalor local level. The various definitions given to the term homeless, the transient nature of homelesspeople, and their ability to remain hidden create difficulties in determining population counts.Researchers note that the issue of homelessness becomes more of a public problem when thehomeless become more visible (Harris, 1991). When the numbers of homeless are reduced, orwhen ‘solutions’ are found to keep them out of sight, society is less bothered by them, although thelives of the homeless are still as difficult or poverty-stricken as before. It is only when society seesthe homeless on a daily basis that mainstream society becomes much more aghast and concernedabout the problem of homelessness.In Canada, homelessness is a concern to both economic and social planners. From an economicstandpoint, the support services provided to the homeless create a financial strain on the nation’ssocial system. The cost of providing band-aid services (e.g. Income Assistance) which attempt tofix an existing social problem far exceeds the cost of providing preventative measures (e.g.educating school children about the reality of street life) which reduce the potential of an eventHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 3occurring. In a special report produced by the Vancouver Sun focusing on child poverty, it wasstated that although a ‘cost-benefit analysis of poverty is an iffy exercise” because too manyvariables exist to properly forecast how a child who begins life with disadvantages will fare later inlife, ‘o ignore the causes of the problem is just false economy” (Pynn and Sarti, 1994: B 12).Emphasizing the need for preventative planning programs, Statistics Canada figures are providedwhich state that:• “every dollar spent on pre-school programs saves more than $4 in later costs;• one male high school dropout will earn $149,000 less in his lifetime and collect more than$10,000 extra in welfare and unemployment benefits. Over a 20-year period, from 1990to 2010, the cost of dropouts to Canadian society will be an estimated $14 billion in lostincome and $620 million in more unemployment insurance benefits; and• federal subsidies for programs for low-income children in foster care, group homes andresidential treatment centres came to $800 million in one recent study, or $16,000 perchild per year” (Pynn and Sarti, 1994: B 12).Although this article centres on child poverty, the statistics provided can be applied to support thepremise that reactive measures to solving homelessness are much more costly than preventativemeasures. Unfortunately, governments use short-term budgetary constraints as a rationale foreliminating preventative programs for children and youth.Recognizing Canada’s social orientation and the need to assist those who are less fortunate,homelessness is a concern to social planners. To maintain a healthy nation, there is a need toensure that all members of society have access to the basics - shelter, food and clothing. It can beargued that youth deserve special attention because they are tomorrow’s leaders and family rolemodels.In the last decade, the number of homeless persons on North American metropolitan streets hasvisibly increased. Among researchers studying specifically the phenomenon of homeless youth,Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 4and service providers who work with street youth on a daily basis, there is a growing awarenessthat the numbers of street youth are increasing, and the ages of these youth are becoming younger.As noted by service providers in Vancouver, these two trends have also been observed within theCity’s street youth population.Concurrent with the visible increase in homeless persons has been the increase in research onhomelessness. However, it appears that only within the past five years has research begun to focuson street youth. The body of literature on street youth is centred around two research areas - thereasons leading youth to the street and their lifestyle once on the street. Very little researchexamines the issue of street youth and housing. In answering the research question, this thesisexamines the pertinent pieces of legislation which affect youth in their search for housing, theadequacy of state-provided and market housing, and the appropriateness of state-providedfacilities.In literature discussing homelessness, the tenns ‘street youth’ and ‘homeless youth’ are often usedinterchangeably. However, their correct usage and desired synonymy is dependent upon thedefinitions applied to each term. This thesis defines a street youth as a person between the ages of12 and 18 who has either chosen to leave or been thrown out of their family home for a minimumof two days, is involved in street related activities, and sleeps in inappropriate accommodations orhas no shelter at all. The terms street youth and homeless youth are used synonymously in thisthesis because the qualities which are absent from an individual’s living environment- privacy,security, stability and access to support services - are also absent from the various living situationsin which street youth find themselves.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 5The continued and increasing existence of homeless youth on metropolitan downtown streetsimplicitly demonstrates that a problem exists in mainstream society such that adolescents arechoosing to leave their family home to seek out a life on the street. While it is critical to examinethe home environment of these youth, and to implement preventative measures such that theyouth’s departure from the family home can be averted, reactive steps must be taken to help thoseyouth who have fled their home and are struggling to survive on the street. Although this thesisfocuses directly on the issue of housing, it is recognized that the lives of street youth are varied andcomplex, and to create truly effective solutions integrated measures are required.1.2 MethodThe methodology applied to complete this thesis is a literature review and a case study ofVancouver’s street youth. The literature review includes a general discussion on who are thehomeless and the extent of homelessness. It then looks specifically at street youth and discusseshow they have come to arrive at their present situation, why youth choose to live a street lifestyle,and the lifestyle they lead once on the street.The case study is an empirical study of the housing environment faced by street youth in the Cityof Vancouver. To understand the reasons why youth are on the street and not utilizing existingstate-provided or market housing, a series of interviews were undertaken. The housing issue wasexamined from two perspectives - the service provider and the youth. It was anticipated that byexamining the issue from both perspectives, a complete and unbiased understanding of the housingissue could be achieved.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 6The service providers perspective was achieved through interviews with government employeesinvolved in various capacities with youth in care, front-line outreach workers, municipal planners,and individuals involved in organizations concerned with serving the needs of youth. In addition todiscussing the barriers facing youth in securing housing, service providers also commented on an‘ideal’ continuum of housing.With the help of municipal planners and front-line service providers, interviews were held withstreet youth currently experiencing difficulties in securing housing and youth who had extricatedthemselves from street life.The conclusions of this thesis are based upon an analysis of the qualitative data obtained throughthe two sets of interviews.1.3 LimitationsThe findings of this thesis are specific to Vancouver. However, the findings may be useful to otherNorth American cities possessing a street youth population and a housing environmentcharacterized by state-provided and market accommodations.The views expressed by the youth interviewed in this thesis are not characteristic of all street youthin Vancouver. The youth perspective obtained in this thesis is typical of some Downtown Eastsidestreet youth. While these youth form only one sub-group of Vancouver’s street youth population,their opinions and experiences provide valuable insight into the issue of street youth and housing.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 71.4 OrganizationThis thesis is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the issue ofhomelessness and street youth, and outlines the purpose, relevance of the research, and researchmethodology.Chapter 2 provides background information regarding both the larger issue of homelessness andthe specific sub-group of street youth. It defines the broad terms of ‘homelessness’ and ‘streetyouth’, outlines the extent of homelessness in North America, and examines in depth the reasonswhy youth turn to the street and the lifestyle they lead once on the street.Chapter 3 begins with a discussion on the growth of research focusing on street youth. It examinesthree recent reports which centre specifically on street youth in Vancouver. The roles of theProvincial and Municipal governments in providing housing for street youth and a recent history ofthe City’s involvement in the issue of housing for street youth are outlined. The various housingservices available to street youth in Vancouver are described.A summary of the interviews with the service providers and youth is presented in Chapter 4. Theproblems inherent in legislation, the inappropriateness of the services provided, and the manner ofservice provision are discussed from both perspectives.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 1: Introduction 8Chapter 5 concludes the thesis by providing a brief summary of the struggles faced by youth inaccessing housing. Recommendations are provided which centre on advocacy and servicecoordinating bodies, attitude changes, additional housing facilities, landlord-tenant relationships,government assistance eligibility criteria, and funding. In addition, a ‘continuum of housing’ modelis presented.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 9CHAPTER 2: UNDERSTANDING WHO ARE THE HOMELESS2.1 IntroductionThis chapter provides background information on both the general issue of homelessness andspecifically the family histories and lifestyles of street youth - a sub-group of the larger homelesspopulation. It is crucial to develop this base knowledge as it enables one to recognize andunderstand the underlying factors affecting youth in their struggle to secure housing.2.2 What is Homelessness?It is imperative to look beyond their presence on the street and to understand the how and why theyhave arrived at their present situation. To understand who are the homeless, it is critical to firstdefine homelessness. There has been little consensus among decision-makers, researchers,govermnent agencies, and housing organizations as to a specific definition of homeless, yet thedefinition given to the word has a significant impact on research, enumeration, and policy creation.No single causal factor exists which exclusively or successfully explains why people have becomehomeless. Rather, homelessness is linked to a complex set of conditions which are affecting agrowing spectrum of society. Oberlander and Fallick (1987: 11) state that homelessness ‘ppearsto be a predominantly urban centred, socio-economic and physical shelter problem, deeply rootedin regional disparities, and closely related to opportunities for meaningful economic participation.”In various regions across Canada, the severity of the homeless situation has ranged from beingtraditionally chronic to ‘patially and temporally episodic” (Oberlander and Fallick, 1987: 11).Even during periods of economic prosperity and social reform, homelessness has continued to be astrong element in our urban environment.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 10Homelessness results from the convergence of social, economic, political and physical factorswhich combine in different ways, and in different spatial and temporal scales (Oberlander andFallick, 1987). Oberlander and Fallick (1987:11) state that the main precipitants of homelessnessin Canada are:• “unemployment, underemployment and unemployability,• poverty,• lack of affordable housing,• the breakdown of the traditional family structure,• inadequacies and inequities in the provision of social welfare,• lack of diversified community support systems for the deinstitutionalized, and• displacement occasioned by urban revitalization.”The concept of homelessness is more complex than individuals living on the street. It has a rangeof meanings stretching from encountering accommodation difficulties, living in a hostel or shelter,having no permanent address, to complete shelterlessness. It includes individuals using makeshiftquarters such as sleeping on a friend’s floor, tripling up in someone’s apartment until evicted, andmoving from emergency shelter to emergency shelter.Watson and Austerberry (1986) note that a problem with the concept of homelessness is the notionof a home. A house is synonymous with a dwelling or a physical structure, where as a homeimplies certain social relationships and activities within a physical building. The home as a socialconcept is strongly linked with the notion of family, conjuring images of warmth, comfort, stability,and security; it carries a meaning beyond the simple notion of shelter.In an attempt to incorporate the notion of a home and the diverse causes of homelessness,Oberlander and Fallick (1988: 11) have broadly defined homelessness as ‘Itihe absence of aHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 11continuing or permanent home over which individuals and families have personal control and whichprovides the essential needs of shelter, privacy and security at an affordable cost, together withready access to social, economic and cultural public services.”2.3 Who is a Street Youth?While a ‘typical street youth’ does not exist, there are patterns and characteristics which apply invarying degrees to most street youth. Sub-groups of street youth have been distinguished by thepathways which have led them into a street lifestyle, the length of time they have survived on thestreet, and the types(s) of income generating activities they participate in while on the street.Commonly, researchers have interchangeably used the terms ‘street youth’, ‘street kids’, ‘streetinvolved’, ‘nmaways’, ‘homeless’, and ‘youth involved in prostitution’ to refer to the samepopulation cohort (McCullagh and Greco, 1990; Rothman, 1991). Rothman (1991: 1) explicitlystates that the term ‘street kids’ is used in various pieces of literature as a pseudonym for‘homeless’. However, in applying these various labels to this population group confusion iscreated. Street youth are not a homogeneous group, rather they are a varied and multi-facetedgroup of individuals. Street youth form one population group, and individually, they possessdifferent characteristics such as being runaways, homeless, and/or street involved (e.g.participating in prostitution, drug trafficking, petty theft).Some definitions do exist which attempt to describe a street youth. In a City of VancouverAdministrative Report (January 29, 1993: 2), street kids are defined as ‘hiale or female youthliving on the streets in Vancouver’s urban core and who are deeply involved in street relatedactivities such as prostitution, drugs and/or alcohol abuse, street crime and the general streetscene.” A definition of street kid used by the Downtown South Area Services Team/YouthHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 12Housing Subcommittee (February 10, 1993: 1) is a youth “16 years of age and older, and not inneed of child protective services.”In a recent report completed by Tonkin et al. (1994: 3) which examined and compared the healthstatus and risk behaviours of Vancouver’s street youth to mainstream youth, the researcherssurveyed 110 Vancouver street youth. The criteria applied which determined the youth’s eligibilityto participate in the study were the following: the youth had to be under the age of 19, and wasusing or had used a street youth agency, or satisfied two of the following conditions: 1) had runaway or been thrown out of their home for at least a two day period; 2) had dropped out of school;or 3) had ‘hung out’ on the street and participated in a street lifestyle within the past year (e.g. washomeless, panhandled, prostituted, sold or used drugs, engaged in illegal activities). These criteriacan be regarded as the Society’s definition of a street youth.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines a homeless youth as ‘bne who has noplace of shelter and is in need of services and a shelter where he or she can receive supervision andcare” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989, cited in Bass, 1992: 2).In work completed by Kurtz, Jarvis and Kurtz, homeless youth are defined according to thepathways which have led them to a street lifestyle. These five types include:1. ‘Youth who already are members of homeless families and become separated from thosefamilies;2. Youth who leave home to escape physical and sexual abuse;3. Youth who are thrown out of their homes by parents or guardians;4. Youth who were removed from or thrown out of their family homes and then ran awayfrom intolerable placements; and5, Minority youth who immigrated unaccompanied to the United States” (Kurtz, Jarvis andKurtz, 1991, cited in Bass, 1992: 2).Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 13In addition to being labeled as street youth, this population subgroup has also been referred to as‘street entrenched’. A street entrenched youth is an individual who has more of their needs met onthe street than elsewhere (e.g. income through prostitution, drug dealing, and/or theft; personal‘happiness’ through substance abuse; shelter through using abandoned buildings).Under the Family and Child Service Act, the British Columbia Ministry of Social Servicesprovides services to youth 18 years of age and under. This Act requires the Ministry to receiveeither parental permission or a court order to take an individual under the age of 19 into care. Anindividual who is 19 years of age is legally considered an adult.Utilizing the above mentioned definitions, recognizing the age limits in which youth can potentiallyreceive support from the Ministry of Social Services, and considering the nature of this thesis, astreet youth shall be defined as ‘an individual between the ages of 12 and 18 (inclusively), haseither chosen to leave or been thrown out of their home for a minimum of two days, is involved instreet related activities, and sleeps in substandard accommodations or has no shelter at all.’Are street youth homeless or simply shelterless? Are youth sleeping in Single-Room Occupancy(SRO) hotels, on the floor of a friend’s house, or in an abandoned building considered homeless?Is a youth seeking refuge in a safe house or temporary shelter homeless? In defining the termhomelessness, it must mean more than simply the lack of a ‘roof over one’s head’. As discussedearlier regarding the views of Watson and Austerberry (1986), a home means more than simplyshelter. It is critical to incorporate the social relationships and notions attached to a family -warmth, comfort, stability and security - into the definition of homelessness. This paper shallutilize the definition developed by Oberlander and Fallick (1988) as the definition of homelessness.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 14Restated, homelessness is “[t]he absence of a continuing or permanent home over which individualsand families have personal control and which provides the essential needs of shelter, privacy andsecurity at an affordable cost, together with ready access to social, economic and cultural publicservices.” Therefore, applying this definition to street youth, it is concluded that street youth arehomeless. While a street youth may have a roof over their head, commonly their livingenvironment does not provide the essential needs of privacy, security, stability nor immediateaccess to support services. A youth in care shall not be referred to as homeless unless their livingenvironment lacks one of the four essential needs (i.e. privacy, security, stability or access tosupport services).2.4 The Extent of HomelessnessIn terms of general numbers, a reliable and accurate enumeration of homeless people in Canadadoes not currently exist. Because the homeless are a constantly moving and shifting population,changing with the season, economy, and time of month, it is both difficult and complex to establishreliable estimates (Oberlander and Fallick, 1988). Many homeless are hidden, living in abandonedbuildings or sleeping in parks and doorways, while others will not even admit to being homeless.Traditionally, enumeration has been based upon an address, but the homeless have no address. Inaddition, enumeration faces the issue of who should be included. If only those who have no shelterare counted, then a low number results, but if individuals who use shelters are included, then alarger estimate results. Tn 1987, the National Inquiry on Homelessness was released estimatingthe number of homeless in Canada to be between 100,000 and 250,000 (based on those who didnot have secure housing and/or whose housing was severely inadequate) (Oberlander and Fallick,1988: 12-13).Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 15Conclusive information on the numbers and ages of youth on Canadian streets is close to nonexistent due to the inherent difficulty in tracking these individuals. Collecting hard data is furthercomplicated when attempts are made to aggregate the data on youth who are runaway, are thrownout, participate in drug use, are involved in prostitution, etc.Reasons cited for the difficulty in determining a valid enumeration of runaway youth include:• research is commonly dependent upon incidents being reported to police under a MissingPersons Report procedure. However, this information is not always accurate as oftenparents/guardians do not inform police when a youth runs away. This situation isparticularly true in cases of repeat runners or youth who have been thrown out;• the absence of a consistent definition of a runaway youth;• samples are commonly taken of youth who utilize different social services; however,these samples do not include youth who do not use the service(s) provided;• the majority of surveys undertaken depend upon voluntary participation by the youth. Asa result, youth who do not wish to participate are not included in the survey’s results;• researchers alter the definition of a ‘street youth’ based upon the focus of the study; and• the underground characteristics of this population. Street youth tend to be highlytransient, do not carry identification, and may lie about their true identity for reasons ofeluding the law and/or their parents, avoiding unwanted Children’s Aid involvement, andthe possibility of not receiving social services because they are either too young or too old(McCullagh and Greco, 1990).Recognizing these factors, it is clear that any enumeration of street youth will underestimate thetrue situation. In terms of a Canadian estimate, a study undertaken in 1989 found that the numberof street youth ranged between 100,000 and 200,000 (Radford et al., cited in McCullagh andGreco, 1990: 25). It was estimated in 1990, that the number of street youth in Vancouver rangedbetween 300 to 400 at any given time. From this value, it was projected that the number of youthinvolved in the street over the year was approximately 1000 (City of Vancouver Social PlanningDept., 1990). Based on the nationwide estimate of street youth, the numbers given for Vancouverare approximately 1/0th to 1/20th of what should be expected. This inconsistency in estimatesHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 16either a) illustrates the related problems of definition and enumeration or b) throws the nationalestimate into doubt.Based upon the information contained in the literature, it is difficult to conclusively determine if thenumbers of street youth are actually greater in 1994 than they were in any previous decade.Although service providers in Vancouver and elsewhere state that the numbers of street youth areincreasing, there are three possible explanations which could account for this visible growth innumbers. These include the number of street youth are increasing relative to population growth,street youth are more visible today than they were in the past, and definitions of homelessness arechanging to be more inclusive.2.5 Why they turn to the StreetThe pathways leading youth to the street are often indirect, multiple and complex. For many, thedecision to enter street life is not intentional; the move to a street lifestyle begins as a run fromhome, but within a short period of time they become entrenched in the street culture. While not allyouth who run become street involved, it is often their ‘first rite of passage’ into street life(McCullagh and Greco, 1990). The more times a youth runs, the longer they remain away fromhome, and the farther they travel, all function to increase the youth’s risk of severing their fmilyties and becoming entrenched in the street culture.McCullagh and Greco (1991: 9) have developed five broad categories to examine the pathwaysleading to homeless youth. These categories include: ‘Runners from’ ... intolerable homeenvironments, ‘Runners to’ ... adventure, Throwaways, Absconders from Children’s Aid Society(CAS) care, and Curb-kids. Rothman (1991) notes that the Youth Development Bureau, a branchHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 17of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has established four categories of runawayand homeless youth. The categories created are: runaways, those who leave home without parentalpermission; push-outs, those who leave home with parental encouragement; throwaways, thosewho leave home with parental approval and the desire to leave home; and non-crisis youth, thosewho live in a problematic environment, but do not intend to leave. These categories provide apartially different grouping of reasons explaining why youth leave their family home than thosedeveloped by McCullagh and Greco. The five categories established by McCullagh and Grecoappear to provide a greater range and inclusive set of categories. For this reason, the McCullaghand Greco categories are used for the purposes of this paper. In addition, it is this author’s opinionthat the Bureau’s category of non-crisis youth does not constitute an appropriate categoryexplaining why youth run because the Bureau describes these youth as remaining in theirintolerable home environment. Lastly, a sixth category is included - Ins and outs. This categoryhas been created in response to a discussion with a City of Vancouver staff member in an attemptto incorporate a newly emerging trend among runaway youth.The following discussion describes in detail the six categories explaining why youth escape to thestreet.a. Runnersfrom ... intolerable home environmentsA significant amount of research undertaken in the eighties and early nineties indicates that themajority of ‘runners from’ intolerable home environments come from extremely disturbed anddysfunctional homes. In many situations physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological abuse,and/or neglect is present. Often the parents themselves are experiencing conflict and violence, andare alcohol or drug abusers.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 18Research which indicates that a very high incidence of physical and sexual abuse exists in familiesof runaway youth includes Price’s (1989) Boston based study in which 65% of the youth surveyedreported experiencing physical abuse. In a study undertaken by Farber et a!. (1984), it wasreported that 78% of the youth surveyed cited physical violence directed toward them by a parentin the one year previous to their flight from home (McCullagh and Greco, 1990:10).Although the premise that family instability and abuse greatly contribute to a runaway’s behaviour,it has not been empirically proven. It is believed that a complex set of inter-related factors existwhich lead a youth away from the family home. A number of studies support this view.Undertaken in 1985, a study of Calgary runaway and homeless youth produced results in which52.6% of the sample felt that poor family communication was a primary factor, and 49.9% citedthe presence of some form of abuse as a second factor leading to running (Nimmo, 1985, cited inMcCullagh and Greco, 1990: 9). In a study of adolescent prostitutes (male and female), it wasfound that 67% of the respondents cited family discord and/or abuse as having contributed to theirdecision to run (Weisberg, 1987, cited in McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 10). In a Vancouver basedstudy, it was found that 89% of the youth surveyed left home because of a range of difficulties, butin aggregate, the reason could be characterized as a home life that was intolerable (CS/RESORS,1989: 14). Within this group, 24% of the responses specifically cited sexual or physical abusewhich made it impossible to stay, and 3% mentioned apprehension by the Ministry for theirprotection. Additionally, 11% of the respondents left foster homes for reasons identical to thosecited by youth who left family homes.Through a study of ‘The Back Door’ - a program which helps youth get off the street if they sodesire - it was found that many of the program’s participants witnessed arguments and violenceHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 19between their parents. In addition, as young children all were psychologically neglected, and themajority were either physically or sexually abused - sometimes both. From discussions with theyouth concerning family life, it was found that: 100% of the youth came from severelydysfunctional homes (37% cited that either one or both parents were alcoholics or drankexcessively); 100% were neglected and psychologically abused as children; 100% of the femalesand 7% of the males were sexually abused; and 50% of the females and 36% of the males reportedphysical abuse (Kariel, 1993: 57-8). This study provides strong evidence that an extremely highincidence level of physical and sexual abuse exists in the family backgrounds of street youth.As these studies clearly indicate, the majority of youth escape from extremely intolerable andabusive environments. Unable to stop the abuse and believing there is no other alternative, theseyouth run to the street to escape their dysfunctional family. However, for many, the decision isimpulsive and rarely planned. Recognizing that these young individuals possess few resources,once on the street, the likelihood of being drawn into the culture is very strong.If an intact social support network exists, the new runaway may approach a friend or relative for aplace to stay. However, this alternative is often only temporary. If a social support network doesnot exist, the youth is unaware or rejects the protective services of CAS, or the youth is unable orunwilling to reveal the abuse, only two choices exist - return to the abusive home environment, orsurvive on the street. Often abusive families maintain a tight reign on their members to ensure the‘family secrets’ are never disclosed. For this reason, these families have a strong interest in havingthe runaway youth return home.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 20b. Runners to ... adventureYouth who fall into this category choose to leave home without parental permission in search ofadventure, excitement and/or independence. These youth are highly peer oriented. Runners toadventure have friends who share similar world views; often they take flight to a place where theirvalues and actions are accepted. For these youth, their run is either alone or with a friend.‘Runners to adventure’ have been described as being attracted to the glamour of the street seeking‘limitless pleasure and instant gratification in response to the parents new attempts to set limits onthe child” (Green and Esseistyn, 1972, cited in McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 12). In a Vancouverstudy (CSLRESORS, 1989), it was found that a small percentage of the youth surveyed wereattracted to the street through the persuasion of a friend (however, the study noted that forpersuasion to occur, it is typically more effective when the youth’s home life is already difficult).While these youth are rebelling against reasonable limits set by their parents, the family and socialbackgrounds of these youth do not reveal any significant impairment on either the part of the parentor the youth (McCullagh and Greco, 1990). In sharp contrast to ‘runners from intolerable homeenvironments’, there is a lack of abuse in the families of ‘runners to adventure’. These youthalways have the option to return home. Their run to the street is usually for a temporary period oftime. Once tired of street life, satisfied, or disenchanted, they return home. However, like all youthon the street, they are “at risk of gravitating toward the addictive qualities of street life by virtue ofbeing ‘limitless’ in their quest for adventure and by virtue of being unsupervised” (McCullagh andGreco, 1990: 12).Despite this group’s existence, research clearly shows that these youth comprise a very smallpercentage of street youth. McCullagh and Greco (1990) cite work by Kufeldt and Nimmo (1987)Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 21in which only 6% of the runaway youth studied ran in search of excitement. McCullagh and Greco(1990) also reference a study carried out by Farber et a!. (1984) which estimates that 20% of theyouth surveyed ran for excitement.c. ThrowawaysIn contrast to the first two categories of youth where there is an absence of parental permission,throwaways are openly rejected by their parents. The parents of these youth commonly agree tothe youth’s premature exit from the family home and in many cases, the youth is encouraged toleave the home because they no longer ‘fit into’ the newly formed (i.e. remarried) family. In somesituations, youth are ‘pushed-out’ of the home by continued abuse, parental neglect of the youth’swell-being, and the parent’s desire to give up their responsibility for the youth (McCullagh andGreco, 1990).A typology of runaway youth created by researcher E.H. Pakes (1984) includes two subgroups thatfit the classification of throwaway youth. The first subgroup, ‘the hood’, is described as a childwho ‘Is experienced by his parents as an unwanted encumbrance to their own desires andpleasures. At the earliest possible age, [the youth] is forced to fend for [them]self and meet [their]own needs in any way that does not require the parents’ time and attention” (Pakes, 1984, cited inMcCullagh and Greco, 1990: 14). In turn, the youth unconsciously reads his parent’s cues andleaves the home. The second subgroup, the ‘emissary’, is “subtly encouraged to leave home inorder to engage in activities which indirectly benefit one or both of their parents, the child acts outthe impulses which are present within the parents but which the parents’ superego forbid them toexpress directly” (Pakes, 1984, cited in McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 14). In this latter situation,the youth does maintain some contact with the home.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 22Recent research is reveallmg that this category of runaway youth is rising in numbers. For youthwho are throwaways, the risk of entering the street culture is significant because the option toreturn home, even in a crisis situation, is not possible. Among social service professionals, theseyouth are becoming known as ‘homeless youth’ because they are being denied their family home.d. Abscondersfrom careA fourth pathway from which youth run and may eventually drift into street life is that ofabsconding from CASfMrnistry of Social Services care. McCullagh and Greco (1990) identifyvarious pieces of research which provide statistics revealling that approximately 30 - 45% of allstreet youth have run from either institutional or state care, a treatment home, or a group/fosterhome. From these statistics, it is clear that youth who are absconders from care constitute asignificant percentage of street youth.The reasons youth run from the various types of care facilities are numerous. Possibleexplanations include:• the current care system does not provide positive support services for youth to aid them indealing with their abusive backgrounds;• running is the hidden expression of a fear of intimacy, and an anxiety about relationshipswithin the residential environment. The act of running is the ultimate method of endingtreatment which the youth may view as too threatening;• multiple placements function to compound the fears of attachment. For a youth who haspreviously been rejected by their family, multiple placements intensify feelings ofalienation;• youth find it very difficult to function in structured care settings because they perceive therules as being extremely rigid and controlling;• youth experience a feeling of isolation when placed in foster/group homes distant fromfamiliar environs and away from family, friends, school and community;• youth are often not involved in the selection process of their placement and thereforeperceive this lack of involvement as over controlling;Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 23• an inadequate matching process of youth and setting cause youth to commonly conformto the expectations associated with the setting and denounce their own needs. Feelingpowerless, youth demonstrate their discontent by running;• when feelings of control and privacy are compromised, youth run to assert theirindependence and reject authority;• foster or group homes present an abusive setting; and• youth perceive a lack of support for their gay/lesbian orientation.e. Curb-kidsAs evident in their name - curb-kids - these youth have a periphery relationship with the street.Although these youth are not always runaways, they remain at risk of becoming entrenched in thestreet culture because of their strong attachment and involvement in street activities. Curb-kidsfrequently travel to the downtown core where street youth typically ‘hang out’, have ffiendshipswith street youth, and participate in high-risk activities (e.g. substance abuse, prostitution).These youth live at home with their parents/guardians or in an institutional residence, but onoccasion may run for a short period of time. Curb-kids sometimes provide meals or the use of abed/shower to youth who are entrenched in the street culture and possess few resources. In asense, curb-kids provide for the survival of other youth. Little research exists on the family historyof these youth and on the proportion of the total street youth population they constitute.f. Ins and outsThis last category is similar to curb-kids in that they are not necessarily runaways. These youthleave the family home when they feel that the home environment is intolerable or unsafe to live in.They take flight to the street for a few days at a time, returning only when they feel it is safe to doso. These youth have a home to return to, however the quality of the home environment is alwaysHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 24changing. In Vancouver, this group of youth is growing in number and causing concern amongsocial planning professionals.As the above discussion of the various pathways to street life illustrate, there is no one singlereason influencing a youth’s decision to leave the family home. It is a combination of familyconflict, abuse, neglect, stress, and personal conflict. Understanding the complexity of their homelife, it is critical that street youth are viewed as victims - symptoms of the failings of our changingfamily structure and social systems.2.6 Where do they come from?The youth who arrive on Vancouver’s downtown streets come from across the province, the nation,and internationally, with the majority arriving from outside of Vancouver. In the Vancouver basedCSIRESORS study (1989), it was found that only one-third of the respondents originated from theLower Mainland and of this one-third, only 17% of the youth were from the City of Vancouver.Just over 25% of the respondents came from areas within the province, but outside of the LowerMainland. The greatest number of youth (3 9%) arrived from communities outside of BritishColumbia.The results of the Tonkin et al. (1994) study mirror those of the CSIRESORS (1989) study. Thebreakdown of results regarding the youth’s previous community are the following: GreaterVancouver including the Fraser Valley - 43%; elsewhere in British Columbia - 19%; elsewhere inCanada - 38%; United States - 1%. Tonkin et al. (1994) found that there was a correlationbetween age and a youth’s previous community. It was found among the younger youth (i.e. 12 to16 year olds) that they were more likely to travel shorter distances, as 54% of those surveyed cameHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 25from areas within Greater Vancouver. Older youth were more apt to have arrived from distantcommunities, as 43% of the 17 and 18 year olds surveyed arrived from elsewhere in Canada.The CS/RESORS (1989) study attempted to determine why youth chose Vancouver as their‘runaway destination point.’ The largest single response (42.1%) was that the youth had at leastone contact person in the city prior to arriving. This high result signifies the importance youthplace on associations with family and friends. The second most frequent response (19.7%) was the‘pull of the Vancouver lifestyle’ - the excitement and interest of the city, and the curiositysurrounding the Vancouver way of life. A third reason frequently cited was the attraction of thearea’s scenery and weather.2.7 Where do they go?Once on the streets of Vancouver, the youth congregate in three main areas - Downtown Eastside(several blocks around the intersection of Main and Hastings Streets), Downtown South (severalblocks around Seymour and Davie Streets) and Mount Pleasant (on the east and west sides ofFraser Street along East Broadway). Although there is some movement between the areas, eacharea retains its own unique character of street youth. The Downtown Eastside street youth arepredominantly native. In addition, there is a large contingent of young Latin American malesinvolved in street activities. Young male prostitutes and ‘experienced’ young women characterizethe Downtown South. This area is also considered the entry point into street life for ‘suburbancurb-kids’. The Mount Pleasant area is frequented by new runaways and young female prostitutes.A significant percentage of street youth participating in the Mount Pleasant area live within thecommunity. While these youth have not yet permanently left their home to survive on the street,Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 26they come from home environments which are intolerable and provide the necessaiy ingredients forthem to leave.2.8 Life on the StreetThe majority of street youth do not move directly from home to living a street entrenched lifestyle.Many initially stay with friends or relatives upon leaving home, and when they can no longer stay,they move on to seek the services provided by outreach and social service agencies. Other youthtemporarily leave the family home for the street and return home after a period of time. Althoughtheir stay may be short, they maintain their ties with the street, only to become further entrenchedthe next time the home environment becomes intolerable.In these uncertain transition stages between life at home and life on the street, youth becomequickly indoctrinated into the street lifestyle. Feelings of alienation and disconnection from theirfamilies, friends, schools and other institutions cause youth to perceive life on the street as moreattractive than life at home. The street possesses a strong ‘pull’ effect as it presents a false senseof freedom, belonging and excitement, and the perception that there is easy money to be made.Personal and supportive relationships form quickly on the street as a feeling of camaraderie existsamong street youth.During this period of movement between living at home and living on the street, youth also tend tofall behind in school and eventually either drop out or are expelled. In addition, if previous to theirshort experiences on the street a youth has not experimented with alcohol or drugs, the streetprovides a prime opportunity to become involved in such activities. Through time, youth developHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 27stronger connections with the street such that it becomes increasingly difficult to extricatethemselves from the culture.Once the definite move has been made to live on the street, survival needs quickly emerge. Oftentoo young or lacking the necessary skills to be legally employed, a youth is forced into participatingin other street activities to ‘earn an income’. For both sexes, prostitution becomes a fonn ofemployment and thus a source of income. Further, by ‘turning a trick’, prostitution provides asource oftemporary shelter. Panhandling and petty theft are other means that youth turn to to earnmoney. Experimenting with alcohol and/or drugs often lead youth into developing an addiction tothe substance. Youth also take to substance abuse to forget their past or their current state ofaffairs. It becomes a vicious downward spiral - in consuming more alcohol or drugs to forget theirproblems, they continue to feed their habit, functioning to only worsen the situation.A youth’s involvement in specific street activities defines how the youth financially supportsthemself, who their peers are, the geographic areas they frequent, and the service agencies, if any,they use. Income producing activities youth participate in include: prostitution, criminal activities(i.e. breaking and entering, shoplifting, assault, robbery, drug dealing), and panhandling. A youthwho is involved in these activities, may work exclusively in one activity, alternate between two ormore activities, or participate in more than one simultaneously.The following discussion provides a characteristic profile of a street youth. It outlines the varietyof skills youth commonly do not possess, the difficulties they encounter in everyday life, and theincome producing activities they participate in.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 28a. Lack ofEducationFor most youth, the decision to run is made between the ages of 13 and 15; as a result, theireducation is disrupted at the grade 8, 9, or 10 level. It is commonly stated among the literature thatthe majority of street youth have not completed more than one year of secondary education. Socialservice providers believe that a significant percentage of street youth are functionally illiterate.Researchers note that a street youth’s poor school history, lack of education, and illiteracy, shouldnot be interpreted as a lack of intellectual potential or ability. Rather, it is a function of theirpersonal problems impacting on their school performance. Often the conflicts and disturbances athome are reflected in their difficulties at school. Failure in the classroom only serves to augmentthe youth’s loss of self-esteem and self-worth. In turn, feelings of isolation and being different areexperienced - first from their families, then from their schools and school peers.Once on the street, the youth’s struggle to survive takes precedence over their ability to continuetheir education. Without a dependable means of income, youth are unable to support themselvesand attend school simultaneously. Despite the fact that many street youth do not attend school,they possess aspirations of one day completing their secondary education. In applying Maslow’shierarchy of needs to street youth, the fulfilling of primary/immediate needs, such as food, shelterand clothing, must be satisfied prior to one pursuing the fulfillment of less urgent needs such aseducation (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 28).Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 29b. Lack of Traditional Employment SkillsRecognizing the two main qualities of a street youth - their lack of education and young age - it isclear that youth are restricted to low skill, minimum wage paying jobs. Even to qualif’ for a lowpaying position, a youth would require:• an address;• a telephone number;• identification;• the literacy ability to fill out an application form;• knowledge of how to undertake a job search;• an employment history;• references;• no criminal record;• suitable clothing; and• minimal schooling.The majority of street youth do not possess many of the above. Facing the fact that they areunemployable by conventional standards, yet requiring an income to support themselves, manyyouth turn to more lucrative activities such as prostitution, theft, drug dealing and panhandling.For these types of employment, a place of residence and references are not required, and one learnsthe skills of the trade while on the job.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 30c. High Incidence of TransiencyStreet youth are a highly mobile group. Rarely is a youth’s place of residence permanent orsecure. In the Tonkin et al. (1994) study, it was found that at the time of the interview, 24% of theyouth had no current address, and more than half (5 2%) had been at their current address for lessthan three months. Less than 15% ofthe youth surveyed had been at their present address for morethan six months. On the street, they stay for short periods of time:• at friends homes;• at hostels;• at hotels, motels, rooming houses, co-operatives, apartments (however, these breakdownquickly due to the youth’s inability to pay the rent, communication with roommates, aneviction due to excessive noise, or the youth’s inability to follow the rules of thelandlord/establishment);• at squats constructed in parks, stairwells, abandoned buildings (however, thesebreakdown when they are discovered by the police or they become too dangerous);• at the homes of strangers, tricks or pimps (youth are taken advantage of by adults whoare able to offer them a place to stay, alcohol, or companionship to ease the loneliness);and• some have no place to stay - they wander the streets during the night, frequent coffeeshops during the night for shelter, warmth and safety, and they may sleep in drop-incentres during the day.The most common form of accommodation for youth are hotel rooms or apartments. However,this characterization can be misleading. As noted earlier, many youth who participate inprostitution use hotel rooms paid for by ‘johns’.The Tonkin et al. study (1994) found that the majority of street youth live independently- 62% livewith other street friends and 16% live on their own. In addition, 17% of the youth interviewedreside with either one or both parents, and 10% reside in foster or group homes. In theCS/RESORS (1989) study, it was found that approximately 40% of the youth interviewed stayedwith friends, and about one-quarter of the youth physically slept on the street.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 31Runaway youth from rural areas tend to gravitate toward urban settings. In this environment, theyare better able to maintain their anonymity. Those youth who travel often do so in search ofadventure or to evade the law. Youth involved in the drug business occasionally move to moreprofitable markets if pressures from the police or street peers become too intense. Youngprostitutes have been noted to travel to avoid detection from the police, social service providers, orfamily members.Most North American street youth move within major cities in Canada and the United States.They are able to travel relatively freely because the income producing activities they engage in arereproducible anywhere.d. Lack ofLiving SkillsThe transiency of youth, as discussed above, is also commonly due to their lack of living skills.Often youth are evicted from a number of different apartments before they actually settle into one.Their immaturity is evident in that upon receiving their first apartment, they either have a largeparty or are taken advantage of by their ‘street friends’; in either case, the result is usually aneviction. Although older youth are able to receive a minimal amount of income from thegovernment (e.g. Income Assistance), they lack the skills to manage this money.A support network does not exist for street youth - continued supervision and guidance to helpthese youth through their troubled period is not available. Many of these youth have moved fromchildhood to adulthood, bypassing the learning stages of adolescence.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 32e. Physical Health ProblemsFor mainstream youth, adolescence is a time of healthy physical development. However, for streetyouth, this developmental stage is fatigued by poor nutrition, insufficient sleep, poor hygiene,stress, and the lack of preventative medical care, treatment and follow-up. In general, the qualityof a street youth’s physical health is inversely related to the length of time they spend on the street.Poor nutrition often results from a lack of money to buy nutritious food, the lack of a place tocook, and the lack of knowledge regarding the value of eating for health. When funds areavailable, street youth commonly buy high calorie fast foods. The remainder of the time youth eatat the homes of curb-kids, hostels, soup-kitchens, and/or drop-in centres, or obtain food throughfood banks, theft, and garbage bins behind stores and restaurants. However, for many youth, foodis not a priority as alcohol and drug use function to suppress their appetite.Street youth commonly experience insufficient and erratic sleep patterns. A factor whichdetennines whether a youth will sleep on any particular day is whether the youth has a place tostay. As the dark hours of a day are usually the most dangerous for a street person, a typical dayfor a street youth begins in the late afternoon and ends in the early morning. lii addition, it is theevening hours when many income producing activities take place.Poor hygiene is common among many street youth. The lack of proper accommodation causesmany youth to rely on public bathrooms and showers or the use of a shower at a friend’s home.Some youth wait until they have secured enough money to rent a hotel/motel or stay in a hostel touse bathing facilities. Laundering also creates problems for youth. In their many moves, youthtend to lose or leave their clothes behind, or have them stolen. For some youth who have left homeHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 33at an early age, they lack the teachings of proper hygiene habits. b general, poor hygiene is afactor leading to one’s increased risk of bacterial infection.Street youth are prone to sickness. They experience prolonged periods of exposure to the elementsdue to inadequate clothing and sleeping in unheated accommodations. In particular, femaleprostitutes do not wear sufficient clothing for fear of losing potential clients. Combined withunhealthy eating habits, these two factors place a strain on a youth’s immune system. In addition,their mental state of depression and anxiety reduces their body’s ability to fight off illness. Streetyouth often lack the necessary knowledge regarding preventative medical care, treatment, andfollow-up examinations. This naiveté only adds to their unhealthy situation. Reasons cited in theliterature for their inaction to acquire proper treatment range from inaccessible street sensitivehealth care to a lack of health education.Street youth have recently been identified as being the highest at-risk population of contractingsexually transmitted diseases (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HTV). Factorsexplaining their high degree of susceptibility to these diseases include their poor physical health,repeated sickness and infection, substance abuse, misinformation and lack of information regardingSTDs and H1V, lack of protective devices, and lack of consistency in practicing protectivebehaviours (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 33; Bass, 1991: 39).McCullagh and Greco (1990: 33) cite research which found that 94% of the youth surveyed weresexually active; however, almost one-third of the respondents stated they never use condoms whenengaging in sexual intercourse. It is clear that the risk of this population group contracting andHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 34spreading STD and HIV is tremendously high since many street youth, in particular prostitutes,have numerous partners and approximately one-third of the population does not practice ‘safe sex’.j SubstanceAbuseThe use of alcohol and drugs, and commonly in tandem, is practically universal among streetyouth. McCullagh and Greco (1990: 34) cite a study undertaken on street youth and aids in which75% of the youth were using drugs at the time of the interview, and approximately 60% were usingdrugs and/or alcohol on a weekly or daily basis. In addition, the study found that of the differenttypes of street involved youth, prostitutes were the heaviest users of intravenous drugs. However,most prostitutes do not engage in substance use while prostituting in order to be fully alert and ableto protect themselves in threatening situations. Reasons cited for a high substance use amongstreet youth include:• the enjoyment of being high;• to lessen the depressing and frightening nature of prostituting and to make the work morebearable;• to cope with the loneliness; and• to conform to peer pressure and expectations.g. Mental Health ProblemsThe childhood histories of street youth are scarred with family dysfunction, parental rejection, andphysical, sexual and psychological abuse. Youth attempt to dull and repress their feelings throughescape mechanisms such as running and alcohol/drug use. While their running episodes mayphysically remove them from their childhood abusive pasts, they ultimately carry with them ‘theunresolved baggage of abuse” (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 35).Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 35It is commonly stated in the literature that street youth exhibit high levels of low self-esteem, self-worth, and feelings of powerlessness. They are often described as ‘in trouble emotionally’,‘alienated’, ‘distressed’, and ‘disoriented’. These qualities are evident in many studies which cite ahigh incidence of self-mutilation and attempted suicides among street youth. Social serviceagencies have attributed their suicidal tendencies to the fact they come from dysfunctional familiesand are predisposed to depression. The cause and effect relationship between a negative homeenvironment and a street youth’s poor mental health, significantly contributes to their inability totrust and be intimate with others, and their capability to abuse others (Rothman, 1991: 76). It isbelieved by some social service workers that youth have a poor state of mental well-being due toexternal factors. Often mainstream society functions to ostracize youth, label them as socialdeviants, and hold them responsible for their predicament (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 35-36).It. Involvement in Criminal ActivitiesThe majority of street entrenched youth experience conflict with the law. However, consideringtheir involvement in prostitution, drug dealing, panhandling, etc. this consequence seems inevitable.McCullagh and Greco (1990: 36) note research which estimates that at least 50% of all streetyouth involve themselves in criminal activities. Further, the length of time youth spend on thestreet and the number of runs from home correspond to the number of different types of illegalactivities youth participate in.L ViolenceAll street youth are targets of violent exploitation. This abuse takes one of two forms: personalassault, for the purpose of stealing their belongings (e.g. earnings, welfare cheques), orphysical/sexual assault. Street youth are assaulted by both outsiders (e.g. pimps, ‘tricks’) andHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 36other street youth. While at times street youth are instigators of violence, they have falsely beenaccused of being gang members. Rather, the contrary is true. Street youth are often the target ofteasing, ridicule, assault, and robbery by middle-class youth gangs. As a result of their fear of notbeing believed and general distrust in the law, many crimes against street youth go unreported.Some youth passively accept the violence against them “as part and parcel of a culture they areunable to escape from” (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 37).j. Peer RelationshipsRelationships made on the street are vitally important to street youth as they provide a sense ofbelonging. For many, these relationships are their first sense of belonging after being rejected bytheir families, schools, and school peers. The importance of relationships is crucial to survival onthe street. Often street smart youth teach the ‘new kid’ the who’s who on the street, how to dress,how to evade the police, how to work the streets, and which social service agencies to use(McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 39). Despite the importance of peer relationships, the friendshipsformed on the street are not always safe and trusting friendships. As noted by one social serviceprovider, the only safe friends a street youth has are paid professionals. Excluded and shut-offfrom mainstream society, youth tend to socialize amongst themselves. Commonly, the incomeproducing activities youth engage in determine their network of ffiends.The male/female relationship on the street commonly exists along sexist lines. The female isexpected to submit to the wants and needs of the dominant male. Often girls are treated as theproperty oftheir partner to whom they rely upon for protection and shelter.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Jllio are the Homeless 37INCOME PRODUCING ACTIVITIESk. ProstitutionLacking adequate financial resources to meet their basic needs, street youth are prime targets forrecruitment into the illicit economy of drug dealing, hustling, and prostituting. Research has foundthat youth tend to enter into prostitution, or any other incoming producing street activity, for thereasons that the activity is financially profitable, is a quick source of income, and no otheralternative appears to exist. A youth’s involvement in prostitution is reactive to their situation andnot “an infonned choice of weighed alternatives” (McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 43).As the length of time increases that a youth is on the street, so too does the probability of theyouth’s involvement in prostitution. The typical time it takes for a female youth to becomeindoctrinated into the sex trade can be as short as a few days. For males on the other hand, it maytake up to several weeks. McCullagh and Greco (1990) cite one study in which approximatelyone-fifth of the street youth population was engaged in the sex trade. While both sexes areinvolved in the activity, it is reported that females outnumber the males by three or four to one. Inmost cities, the various sub-groups of prostitutes work within their own geographic areas.Although the majority of female prostitutes work as independents and not for a pimp, many have atone point in time had a pimp. It is very common among juvenile females to work for a pimp(McCullagh and Greco, 1990: 41). For females who have a partner, this individual plays a‘pimping role’ and the female works to support him. One researcher notes that pimps ‘re perhapsthe most notorious exploiters of runaway youth,” (Barak, 1991:88) typically using charm, flattery,the lure of money, protection, and companionship to attract young girls into the trade. Frequentlythe juvenile-pimp relationship is abusive and psychologically straining, particularly if the youngHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 38girl does not perform according to her pimp’s expectations. In general, female prostitutesexperience greater victimization, abuse and violence than male prostitutes.Females typically use their bodies more as a means to obtain shelter than do males. Females eitherdevelop a love relationship, where they reside at their boyfriend’s home, or they remain in thehotellmotel room for the night after ‘turning a trick’ since the room has already been paid for bythe ‘john’. To a lesser degree, males sell their bodies to secure shelter, but this is more prevalentamong homosexual male prostitutes.Unlike female prostitutes, male prostitutes seldom work for pimps. Although they are not subjectto abusive pimps, they are often victimized by homophobic people and suffer pain from the violentacts they are required to perform. The majority of male prostitutes are in their teenage years orearly twenties and the length of time they prostitute commonly does not extend past the age of 30.A male prostitute has a shorter career because there is a low demand for older male prostitutes.There are two groups of male prostitutes - heterosexuals and homosexuals. Heterosexualprostitutes view their clients with disgust (Benjamin, 1985, cited in McCullagh and Greco, 1990:42). The trick is characterized as emotionless and business-like. If affection is expressed on thepart of the trick, it may be met with a violent response by the prostitute. It is common among theseyouth to experience gender identity problems.For a homosexual prostitute, it has been hypothesized that prostitution serves as a way for theyouth to enter the gay community. Fleeing from homes which shunned homosexuality, or feelingconfusion regarding their sexual orientation, prostitution allows these males to secretly exploreHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 39their sexual identity. A significant number of gay males come from rural communities where oftena gay community is not established and the necessaiy support services are neither available noradequate. Unlike heterosexual male prostitutes, the potential for violence to erupt is less likelysince these youth view their clients with respect. On occasion, tricks offer financial support and aplace to stay to the youth. Dependent upon the youth’s predicament, this may be an attractiveproposition.Regardless of the length of time a youth (male or female) is involved in prostitution, this form ofincome producing activity has a destructive affect on the youth. Through time, a youth prostitutebecomes depressed, alienated, lonely, and frightened - later experiencing feelings of guilt andshame because of their involvement in the activity, and disgust and anger toward their customers.In addition to simply participating in prostitution, there exists the added risks of being raped,murdered, assaulted, imprisoned, harassed, and subjected to other degrading experiences.L Criminal ActivityStreet youth involved in criminal activity are typically male and support themselves through pettycrimes such as assault, robbery, shoplifting, and breaking and entering. Many youth who performthese activities carry a weapon. These youth are heavily involved in the criminal court system andas they near adulthood, the potential for the severity of the crimes they commit increases.in. Drug DealingIn the drug trade, street youth are commonly employed as ‘mall time drug runners, small timedealers, and drug associates” (McCullagh, Greco, 1990: 44). Because drug dealing isHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 2: Understanding Who are the Homeless 40characterized by the transaction of large sums of money, major drug dealers do not entrust streetyouth with responsible roles.n. PanhandlingStreet youth who attempt to financially support themselves through panhandling are barley able tosustain themselves. They are commonly viewed as the ‘hard-core’ street youth - the youth wholiterally sleep on the Street. Panhandling is performed on an individual basis, but at the end of theday, street youth gather and decide how to use their collective earnings. When the situationbecomes too desperate, these youth often turn to other activities for a source of income.Despite the fact that some activities, such as prostitution, may be extremely lucrative, street youthtypically live in poverty. On the street, money is earned and spent quickly. Money is spent ondrugs/alcohol, accommodation, clothes, taxi cabs, dining out/fast-food, dry cleaning, entertainment,and helping friends.o. SummaryAs Gregg Barak (1991: 82) notes in Gimme Shelter, ‘the condition of homelessness is not onlyfraught with all kinds of victimization [psychological, emotional, physical] and criminalization, butthat the vary condition itself is criniinogenic or crime-producing.” For many youth, the fear ofliving on the street is less threatening than the fear of living at home. Lacking conventionalemployment skills, education, and experiencing feelings of inadequacy and personal disgrace, Streetyouth take to income producing activities which yield ‘easy money’ yet require few skills.However, these activities, in particular prostitution, only further degrade a youth’s feelings of self-worth and increase their feelings of loneliness.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 41CHAPTER 3: BACKGROUND RESEARCH, GOVERNING BODIES ANDAVAILABLE HOUSING OPTIONS3.1 IntroductionThis chapter has three purposes. First, it provides background information on the history of streetyouth research, and discusses Canadian literature focusing on street youth and research specific tostreet youth in Vancouver. Second, it outlines both the Provincial and Municipal roles in providinghousing and related services to street youth, and a recent history of the City’s involvement inhousing street youth. Lastly, it presents a summary of the various housing options available tostreet youth in Vancouver, the accessibility of outside support services to youth, and the influencepast housing experiences have had on recent initiatives concerning street youth housing.3.2 A History of Research on Street YouthPrior to 1987, there existed a very limited amount of detailed information on homeless youth. Thisin part can be attributed to the fact that the homeless are not a homogeneous population - ‘theirsocial, economic and demographic diversity make them difficult to quantify or classify”(Oberlander and Fallick, 1988: 13). On a nationally televised American news program it wasreported that there was an increasing public hostility towards the homeless. While the newscastfocused primarily on homeless men, their prevalence in public areas, and their ‘offensiveness to thepublic’, there was no mention of the severe problem of ‘homeless, ‘throwaway’ and runaway”youth struggling to survive in both urban and rural areas across the United States (Rothman, 1991:vii). It was the hope expressed by Jack Rothman, an American researcher, that the omission ofthese youth from the report did not reflect the public’s indifference to their situation. Rather, itwas hoped their non-mention was a result of the fact they do not stand out as strikingly differentfrom others their age.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 42The lack of information regarding street youth is also due in part to the fact youth are a forgottenpart of today’s society. There is much discrimination against youth. Often their opinions are notvalued by the adult decision-making world, and in many instances, they are not even heard.Because youth lack the ability to organize themselves, they form a segment of society whose needsare not advocated for.The International Year of Shelter for the Homeless (1YSH) took place in 1987. It functioned tofocus attention on the plight of the homeless both within Canada and internationally. The CanadaMortgage and Housing Corporation served as the Canadian focal point and actively supported adiversity of initiatives to ‘identify and highlight the best means of aiding the homeless andalleviating homelessness” (Oberlander and Fallick, 1988: 1). The objective of this speciallydesignated year was to improve the shelter and neighbourhoods of some of the poor anddisadvantaged by 1987, and by the year 2000, to demonstrate ways and means of improving theshelter and neighbourhoods of all the poor and disadvantaged. The 1YSH served as a means ofconsciousness raising and brought to the forefront ‘uestions that run to the heart of the humancondition” (Oberlander and Fallick, 1988: 2).From the workshops, reports and conferences held prior to and during the 1YSH, evidence wasfound which supported the observation that there was a significant increase in homelessness amongdisaffected youth (many of whom were only entering their teens). The phenomenon of increasingnumbers of youth on the street was further highlighted in 1992 as a result of the Ministry of SocialServices commissioning a community panel to review child protection legislation in BritishColumbia. The work of the Commission also uncovered the fact that the youth on the street wereyounger than those in the past, and their numbers were growing. Elsewhere in Canada and theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 43United States, similar findings and trends were being reported by researchers (McCullagh andGreco, 1990; Rothman, 1991).The body of literature focusing specifically on the issue of street youth has been growing since thelate eighties. Although the majority of research appears to be based in American settings, thereasons leading youth to the street and their life while on the street are similar regardless of the cityyouth choose to seek refuge. However, while these two research areas - pathways to the street andstreet lifestyle - form the bulk of the literature, little research looks specifically at the housingaspect. This can be attributed to the fact that housing for street youth is context specific.Government-provided care systems vary from country to country and province to province. Theaccessibility, availability, and form of housing for street youth is significantly affected by thepolitical enviromnent (i.e. governing policies and legislation, government action) in which it exists.a. Canadian LiteratureThere are four excellent pieces of work which focus specifically on Canadian street youth. Whileeach piece varies in purpose, all four clearly describe the multitude of reasons why youth areattracted to the street and how they carry out their daily lives in that environment. Co-authored byJohn McCullagh and Mary Greco, Servicing Street Youth: A Feasibility Study was developed inresponse to concerns expressed by front line Children’s Aid Society (CAS) workers regarding thenumber of youth on the street and their resistance to CAS intervention. The project examined boththe issues related to street youth and the social services in place to meet the needs of these youthfor the purpose of providing recommendations to programs and policy.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 44Street Kids: The Tragedy ofCanada ‘s Runaways, written by Marlene Webber, draws extensivelyon interviews with street kids from across the nation to discover the realities of street life, itsdrawing power, and its consequences. To illustrate the harshness of their situation, Webberprovides many anecdotes as told by the youth themselves.‘The Back Door’ - a Calgary based program helping self-motivated youth get off the street andguiding mainstream individuals to help youth through this process - provides the context in whichstreet issues are explored in Pat Kariel’s work entitled New Directions: Stepping out ofstreet life.Based upon her leamings regarding the critical issues in the lives of street youth, Kariel providesgeneralizations on the interrelationships among the issues and suggests improvements.Lastly, Evelyn Lau provides a personal account of her two-year physical and emotional struggleliving on the streets of Vancouver in Runaway: Diary ofa Street Kid. Lau succinctly describesher childhood and the forces leading her to a life on the street, her experiences and feelings while onthe street, and the emotions she now experiences as she looks both back on her past life, andforward to her new life.b. Reports on Vancouver’s Street YouthIn the past five years, Vancouver’s street youth have been the focus of three reports. Of these threereports, two have been completed in 1994. These reports include ‘A Study of the VancouverReconnect Program and Vancouver Street Youth” (1989), ‘Adolescent Health Survey: StreetYouth in Vancouver” (1994), and ‘The Granville Mall Youth Project” (1994). The fact that onlythree reports exist to date on street youth in Vancouver further illuminates the fact that street youthHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 45are an under studied and under recognized segment of our society. Only recently has moreattention been given to the current life situation and life histories of these young people.‘A Study of the Vancouver Reconnect Program and Vancouver Street Youth” (1989) wascommissioned by the British Columbia Ministry of Social Services and Housing (now Ministry ofSocial Services). The Study forms part of the Ministry’s commitment to helping street youthescape their entrenchment on the street and directing them on a path iowards a more secure andproductive mainstream life” (CS\RESORS, 1989: i). The study consists of two types ofinformation. First, it includes data and an analysis of this data, on the various characteristics ofVancouver’s street youth. Second, the study provides a review and description of the ReconnectProgram’s recent history, and a review of the services available to street youth. While theemphasis of the study is upon examining the program’s provision of services to street youth, thereport provides a number of recommendations which are both general in nature, and specific to theprogram. The recommendations address the following issues:• prevention through education programs to service providers on the impact of sexual andphysical abuse and the indicators of an abusive situation, and the development of astrategy to target youth who are still at home regarding the danger of street life;• the provision of treatment and programs to street youth who have been and/or are victimsof abuse, are substance abusers, are in need of innovative alternative housing, and areseeking employment training;• establishment of effective communication channels between all service providers;• development of a defined set of goals and responsibilities for the Reconnect Program;• coordination of services on a province-wide basis to improve the effectiveness ofrepatriation; and• evaluation of potential service gaps to repatriated youth and ensuring service providersunderstand the life of a street youth.The second study which focuses on Vancouver street youth is ‘Adolescent Health Survey: StreetYouth in Vancouver” (1994). Produced by Tonkin et al., under the direction of the McCrearyHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 46Centre Society, this study is a follow-up survey to complement an earlier survey completed in 1993which focused on the health status and risk behaviour of mainstream youth in British Columbia.The 1993 survey was administered only to youth enrolled in public and independent schools(grades 7 - 12). However, many youth were missed by this original survey as they had either leftschool permanently for the labour force, resided in care or correctional facilities, or were survivingon the street. The 1994 street youth survey, one of many special group surveys, is an attempt tocorrect the original omission.The Society believes that relatively little information exists on the health status and habits ofadolescents in British Columbia and with respect to street youth, even less information is available,The Society’s survey on the health of Vancouver’s street youth provides direct comparisonsbetween street youth and mainstream youth. In so doing, it provides a ‘ontext for understandingthe qualities and experiences which make street youth unique and different from mainstream youth”(Tonkin et al., 1994: 2). It is their opinion that services and programs are developed for youthbased on the characteristics, needs and/or problems as determined by adults rather than upon theactual behaviours and attitudes of youth. While the report does not provide recommendations, thefindings provide a base from which one can be enlightened regarding the health status and riskfactors among street youth, and develop effective disease prevention and health promotioninitiatives.‘The Granville Mall Youth Research Project” (1994) is the third report which focuses specificallyon street youth in Vancouver. It was completed under contract for the Greater Vancouver MentalHealth Services Society (GVMHSS) and the Ministry of Social Services. The purpose of theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 47project was twofold: to develop a socio-demographic profile of street youth who congregate in theGranville Mall area, and determine the service needs of these youth.The youth interviewed for this project were not representative of Vancouver’s street youthpopulation. The target group were youth aged 13 to 18 years who refused the services provided bythe Ministry of Social Services and the GVMHSS offered out of the Adolescent Street Unit officelocated at 575 Drake Street. Although never officially stated, the majority of these youthinterviewed can be described as ‘punkers’ or ‘skinheads’. It was noted that the youth whoparticipated in this study were possibly less affected by their backgrounds, and that their streetstatus was more a result of choice rather than necessity.The report identifies six needs and for each need provides a recommendation. Two of therecommendations relate specifically to housing. The first is the provision of a safe house for youthunder the age of 16 who do not wish the authorities to contact their parents nor want to be placedin care. The second recommendation is that greater consideration should be given to placing youthin ‘medium-term’ residential facilities in lieu of providing youth with Income Assistance. It is thebelief of the project’s author that Income Assistance only functions to deteriorate an already badsituation, as youth resort to living in inappropriate and poor quality accommodations (e.g. hotels).These three research reports provide an excellent source of information regarding thecharacteristics of a street youth’s family past, educational background, and lifestyle while on thestreet. Of the two reports which provide recommendations, the recommendations of the ReconnectStudy are both specific to the program and general in terms of the method of service provision.While ‘The Granville Mall Youth Project”provides recommendations, of which two are targeted atHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 48housing, it must be remembered that this survey was undertaken on only a specific sub-populationof street youth and is not representative of the entire street youth population. In addition, itappears that the project based its recommendations solely on the views of the youth interviewed. Aprofessional/service provider viewpoint was not included in the report.3.3 Provincial Involvement in Housing for Street YouthThe two primary provincial ministries involved in the issue of housing for street youth are theMinistry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Social Services.Traditionally, the role of providing housing has been a federal responsibility - originally beingmandated under the BNA Aci 1867 and later the Constitution Aci 1987. Canada Mortgage andHousing Corporation was the federal agency responsible for developing programs and providingfunding to create affordable and subsidized housing. However, in the 1980s the federalgovermnent began to withdraw from its role of providing housing giving more responsibility toprovincial governments. The increase in provincial responsibility for housing in British Columbialed to the growth of the British Columbia Housing and Management Commission and this body’sgreater role in determining project funding.In the provision of housing, the roles of these two ministries are very different. The Ministry ofHousing, Recreation and Consumer Services provides a source of funding for street youth housingprojects, and the Ministry of Social Services provides and manages the various housing andsupport services.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 49a. The Role ofthe Ministry ofHousing, Recreation and Consumer ServicesPrevious to the withdrawal of the Federal government from the provision of housing, jointFederal/Provincial housing policies were more exclusive than inclusive regarding the groups thatwere eligible to receive funding. The narrow scope of previous policies caused street youth to beone group not eligible to receive Federal funding. Street youth who were no longer under 19 yearsof age fell through the cracks in terms of receiving housing. These individuals were no longer ableto receive housing support (e.g. group/foster homes) from the Ministry of Social Services, andwere not considered disabled enough to be classified as a special needs group to receive funding forthe development of subsidized housing projects.The movement of the Federal government out of the realm of providing housing to special needsgroups has allowed the Provincial government to develop its own policies and programs. As thesole funding source, the Province began in the 1990s to create flexible programs and policies.Unlike the policies of old, the policies created by the Province are relative to the current socialstmcture and are able to address the changing needs of society. The Ministry works closely withother support ministries to identify other target groups, and street youth are now one such newlyidentified special needs group.In the fiscal year 1992/93, the Ministry began a pilot housing program entitled Homeless/At RiskHousing. The intent of the program was to target groups that had fallen through the gaps. In thepilot program’s Call for Expressions of Interest, street youth were identified as a special needsgroup, Street youth the Ministry were attempting to target were those youth who had no otheralternative than a life on the street. The Homeless/At Risk Housing program operated as a pilotHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 50project in the fiscal years 1992/93 and 1993/94, and has become a fi.ill program for the fiscal year1994/95.In February 1993, the first year of the Homeless/At Risk pilot housing program, the Ministry ofSocial Services and the Ministry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services were responsiblefor providing funding for the safe house. On March 23, 1993, in response to the Mmistry of SocialService’s request for street youth housing, the once Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation andHousing announced that $2.8 million was available for the creation of 25 self-contained units forstreet youth desiring to graduate from the street environment.b. The Role ofthe Ministry ofSocial ServicesIn its capacity of providing housing, the Ministry of Social Services performs two roles and in sodoing, is governed by two provincial statutes. First, it provides child protection services aslegislated under the Family and Child Service Act (F & CS). This provincial statute affords theMinistry the legal ability to ‘apprehend’ a youth at risk and to offer the youth a safe place in aMinistry-approved child care resource. Second, through the Guaranteed Available Income forNeed Act (GAI]V), the Ministry is able to provide Underage Income Assistance to youth aged 17and 18 years who are eligible to receive such support.These two provincial statutes are the primary pieces of legislation which affect a youth’s ability toaccess housing or shelter. As mentioned above, the F & CS Act allows youth to receive stateprovided/operated housing through their apprehension by the Ministry. However, the Ministrycannot place any youth in state care without either parental/guardian consent or a court order.Upon being taken into care, the Ministry becomes the youth’s guardian.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 51The GAINAct is a discretionary type of legislation. Although written for adults, through variousinterpretations of its regulations and policy, it allows older youth the opportunity to apply andreceive financial aid and thus the ability to find their own housing. On rare occasion, youth whoare 16 years of age are able to receive Income Assistance however, they must first receive arecommendation by their social worker.The process a 17 or 18 year old youth must follow to receive Income Assistance is to first apply toa financial aid worker, who then assesses their eligibility. Upon a successful application, thefinancial aid worker must notify the parent that the youth will be receiving Income Assistance.This step must be completed prior to the youth receiving any money. In addition, prior to receivingfinancial aid a youth must prove to the Ministry that s/he has found an accommodation (through an‘Intent to Rent’ form competed by the future landlord), and is actively seeking employment. Ayouth who is entitled to Income Assistance is able to receive up to $546/month. This valueconsists of two components - a shelter (i.e. rent) component valuing up to $325/month and asupport component of $221/month. If the total of the youth’s rent plus utilities exceeds the $325Ministry-provided rent allowance, then the excess amount must be paid out of the youth’s supportcomponent. On the other hand, if the cost of the unit is less than $325/month, the youth receives ashelter allowance equal to the exact value of the rental price.c Recent Legislative ChangesThe current Family and Child Service Act has recently undergone reform. The two alterations tothe Act - Bills 45 and 46 - were originally introduced into the legislature on May 18, 1994, andreceived Royal Assent on June 30, 1994. However, they will not be implemented by the Ministryof Social Services until the fall of 1994. Bill 45, the Child, Youth and Family Advocacy Act, is aHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 52newly created Act. Bill 46, the Child Family and Community Service Act, will repeal and replacethe current Family and Child Service Act.Bills 45 and 46 are in response to the current legislation’s inability to effectively deal with childrenand youth living in, and escaping from, dysfunctional families. The existing F & CS Act wasdeveloped in 1981 at a time when society was first becoming aware of the disturbing problems ofphysical and sexual child abuse. The present legislation has not changed along side with society’senlightenment of the needs of children and families living in these stressful conditions. Theemphasis of the current Act is upon apprehension and removal of children from troubled families.Further, the F & CS Act does not provide support services to families. Considering the abundanceof child development research and other pieces of legislation, the current Act is no longerappropriate.In November 1991, the Minister of Social Services appointed a Community Panel, consisting ofindividuals from the private and public sector, to review the Province’s existing child protectionlegislation, and to develop recommendations that would better serve children, families andcommunities. lii response to the recommendations of the Community Panel, the Ministry of SocialServices produced a white paper for public discussion in July 1993 entitled ‘Making Changes:Next Steps” This paper stimulated another 160 submissions. The Child Family and CommunityService Act and the Child Youth and Family Advocacy Act are the result of this two yearconsultation process.The Chilcl Family and Community Service Act (Bill 46) contains improvements to six key areaswhich will positively affect children, youth and families. The first area is ‘services to youth’. TheHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 53new legislation allows youth, who as of their 19th birthday are wards of the state, to continue toreceive services (e.g. counselling, housing, health care, educational assistance) for any two yearperiod up until their 24th birthday.In terms of the ‘rights of children in care’, Bill 46 fimctions to make these rights explicitly knownto all. linportant fundamental changes include youth are to be informed about their plans of care,youth are to be consulted and encouraged to express their views about significant decisions whichaffect them, youth are to be infonned of the standard of behaviour expected by their caregivers andthe consequences of not meeting their caregivers’ expectations, and youth are to be informed oftheir rights under the new Act and the procedures available to enforce them.The importance of involving the community in reviewing the needs of youth in care is recognizedby the Act in the establishment of a ‘Child and Family Review Board’. The role of this Board willbe to review and remedy complaints regarding the breach of the rights of youth in care.Previously, support services were not always available in lieu of the removal of a child from thefamily home. Bill 46 will allow families, through agreement, to access a variety of support andprevention programs and services.The fourth key issue concerns ‘aboriginal families and children’. The new legislation recognizes abroader definition of aboriginal children than is currently the case. It seeks to resolve problemswithin the family and to ensure that community members will be involved when judicialproceedings are required. Strong attempts will be made to place children within the child’sextended family or community of origin, and if not possible, with another aboriginal family, Thenew Act also enables First Nations to reassume jurisdiction and authority in the area of child andHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 54family services. The Act allows the Minister of Social Services to enter into agreements withaboriginal communities to provide them with full administrative authority to implement the Act.‘Child Protection’ is the fifth key issue. In the Family and Child Service Act, it has been commonpractice to remove a child from an unsafe environment. In the new Act, provisions are made suchthat if there is reason to believe a child may require protection from another person, that individualmay be removed from the premises and prevented from contacting the child. However, in all cases,the director, the parents and the child are given alternatives to removal. Lastly, in tenns of childprotection, the Ministry will have the authority to take a youth into care for a 72 hour period priorto contacting the youth’s parents or guardian.The final key issue is the ‘powers of the court’. The new legislation provides greater flexibilityregarding the orders which can be made by a court. In addition, the Act imposes time limits ontemporary custody orders recognizing the need to reduce delays in the planning of a youth’spermanent placement.The importance of the new Child Youth and Family Advocacy Act (Bill 45) is that it establishesan independent officer of the Legislature whose purpose is to provide advocacy for children, youthand families receiving services under the new Child Family and Community Service Act. Thisnew Act will provide an avenue in which youth can be heard.iL Vancouver Based Initiatives ofthe Provincial MinistriesResulting from the CS/RESORS study of the Ministry of Social Services and Housing’s (nowMinistry of Social Services) Reconnect Program, the Ministry developed a three-year plan to dealHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 55with street youth in British Columbia. This plan has lead to the creation and implementation of 39new programs across the province.The expansion of the Reconnect Program is an attempt by the Ministry to provide more streetlchildcare workers to youth in their home communities. The program is striving to achieve two goals: 1)to provide services throughout British Columbia such that youth are better able to access servicesin their own communities and thus prevented from migrating to Vancouver, and 2) to repatriateyouth to their home communities as the necessary services will be available upon the youth’sreturn.In Vancouver, the effects of the plan are visible at the Adolescent Street Unit (ASU) office.Through expanding the services available at ASU, the Ministry is attempting to provide ‘one stopshopping.’ By increasing service accessibility, it is hoped that youth will become familiar with thefaces of the personnel, and develop a rapport and sense of community with the service providers.In addition, youth will face less stress as they will need to visit only one building for the variousservices they require, and the confusion of traveling from service to service or building to buildingwill be avoided.Presently, the Ministry of Social Services is considering providing funding for a second safe houseto be located in Vancouver. There is uncertainty however, as to the target group the safe housewould serve. The two possible client groups are youth under the age of 16 and aboriginal youth ofall ages. Youth under the age of 16 have been identified because the present safe house is targetedto serve youth between the ages of 16 and 18, and there have been increasing reports by serviceproviders that the number of younger aged street youth is increasing. The aboriginal focus wasHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 56identified because service providers note that a significant portion of aboriginal youth only want toaccess aboriginal services. As stated by one interviewee (Taylor, 1994), if this group was selectedas the focus of the safe house, it would fit with government initiatives regarding self-governmentfor aboriginal people.Considering the Ministry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Service’s 1994/95 Call forExpressions of Interest for its Homeless/At Risk Housing program, the potential exists for fundingto become available to develop housing for street youth. Projects to house street youth, if selected,will become known on October 31, 1994 when the Ministry awards Conditional Allocations.3.4 Municipal Involvement in Housing for Street YouthIn the City of Vancouver, housing is considered a major social right of all citizens (Parry, 1994).However, it is not the responsibility of the City to construct housing. The City’s primary role indealing with the issue of housing for street youth is one of facilitator. The City functions to bringtogether the various agencies and societies involved in providing services to street youth.Specifically, the role of the Social Planning Department is to be aware of the issues, to promoteawareness of the issues, and to assist groups in resolving the issues. The Housing and PropertiesDepartment is responsible for locating and leasing real estate to the provincial government for thedevelopment of affordable and subsidized housing projects, and aiding in the development approvalprocess.3.5 City of Vancouver’s Recent History in Servicing Street YouthIn Vancouver, the year 1990 marked a turning point in the provision of services to street youth.Prior to this year, there existed significant gaps in the services provided to this segment of theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 57population. However, the lack of adequate service provision was clearly recognized by theDirector of Social Planning (City of Vancouver Social Planning Dept., March 21, 1990). Theseservice inadequacies were addressed through improvements to the coordination of existing services,the creation of new services, and a redirection and re-allocation of resources. Much of the successin closing the various service gaps was the result of work undertaken by the Inter-Ministerial StreetChildren’s Committee (IMSCC).’ Through the identification of key issues, and fullcommunication and cooperation between committee members, the IMSCC was able to initiateand/or assist in the implementation ofmany recommendations.Despite this progress, in the eyes of the Social Planning Department four significant gapscontinued to exist in 1990. These service gaps included: 1) the lack of a combined Alcohol andDrug Detox and Intermediate Residential Care Facility; 2) insufficient health care (i.e. inadequatetime allotted to street nurse activities in the Granville Mall area, inadequate resources for substanceabuse and mental health treatment, and insufficient counselling for AIDS victims); 3) the absenceof an integrated response centre for sexual abuse victims; and 4) the absence of both a ‘safe house’and housing targeted to serve the needs of specific sub-populations of street youth (i.e. nativeyouth, pregnant street youth (in particular, substance addicted youth)).The Vancouver Inter-Ministerial Street Children’s Committee was established in January 1986 inan effort to identify and coordinate existing services to street youth. The aim of the Inter-MinisterialStreet Children’s Committee is to prevent children who are experimenting with street life from becomingentrenched in the street lifestyle and to help children who have become immersed in the street culture toextricate themselves by ensuring that there are accessible health, social and educational servicesappropriate to the needs of street children and that these services are working in a coordinated manner.The IMSCC consists of representatives from the Ministry of Social Services and Housing,Ministry of Health, Solicitor General, Provincial Alcohol and Drug Program, City of Vancouver SocialPlanning and Health Departments, City of Vancouver Police Dept., and Vancouver School Board.Housing Sfreet Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 58Of the four identified service gaps, only the last ‘gap’ spoke specifically to the issue of street youthand housing. While the absence of a safe house (a short stay facility for youth wanting to make theinitial steps away from the street) had been identified as a service gap, it was not the first time ithad been mentioned. The need for a safe house had been recognized prior to 1990. However,when it was initially mentioned, Provincial Ministries faced problems regarding the legalcomplexities of housing underage children, and private agencies expressed concerns regarding riskand insurance. At the time, under the Residential Tenancy Act any person under the age of 19 whoentered into a residential agreement was not liable for their actions. This fact resulted in manylandlords not accepting underage persons as tenantsAt the municipal level, it was the opinion of the Social Planning Department that the City lacked ananalysis which prioritized the need for providing the various types of housing. b turn, the priorityof providing a safe house within the spectrum of all housing forms had not been established.However, in contrast to the opinion of Social Planning, it was the viewpoint of Housing andProperties that the construction of youth housing was not a municipal responsibility. Historically,the role of municipal government was to assist senior government(s) in the implementation of theirhousing program(s). In facilitating senior government projects, Vancouver’s role has been limitedto that ofproviding land.Further, the City of Vancouver has no explicit responsibility to underage persons. Theresponsibility of providing a safe house (i.e. housing for persons under the age of 19) was, and is,the responsibility of the provincial Ministry of Social Services.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 59Considering the opposing viewpoints of Social Planning and Housing and Properties, and theProvincial responsibility of providing housing for underage persons, it was determined by SocialPlanning that the City’s potential role in providing a safe house could vary from moral support fora private developer to actual development and management of the facility. At the end of the day, itwas decided by Social Planning that a response could only be determined after a feasibility study ofoperating the facility was completed and priorities were established.It is believed by this author that a third factor which indirectly influenced the City’s history ofinaction regarding prioritizing the need for a safe house was the failure of the ‘Senator’. The‘Senator’, a facility similar to a safe house, was opened in March 1981 as a result of workcompleted by a Task Force on Juvenile Prostitution. The goal of the Task Force was to bringtogether senior representatives of public agencies to facilitate a modification and coordination ofyouth services. Of the more than 20 recommendations provided, one was for a multi-serviceresidential facility to be developed as a resource for children from the downtown area. It wasspecifically recommended that the Ministry of Human Resources establish a short-stay on-streethostel serving older teens who appeared ready to leave street life.The ‘Senator’ provided accommodation to youth aged 17 to 19 years and the necessary supportservices required by these youth. Although the ‘Senator’ provided a variety of services other thanhousing, it suffered from a number of problems culminating in its closure on December 31, 1983.As a result of Social Planning’s identified need to determine the feasibility of a safe house and citywide priorities with respect to providing various types of housing, in March 1990, Social Planningasked Housing and Properties to work together to address the issue of a safe house, TheDepartments had two goals - first, to coordinate activities to determine how the particular housingHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 60needs of street youth could be prioritized within the context of all housing needs and second, todetermine which housing programs and strategies should be employed to ensure that the highestpriority forms of housing were developed.In early April 1990, work began between municipal staff and the IMSCC. Soon after,recommendations were put forward to the Standing Committee of Council on Planning andNeighbourhoods and were unanimously approved. One recommendation specifically addressed thehousing needs of street youth and was stated as follows: ‘That Council instruct the Manager ofProperties to locate a ‘safe house’ for youth ...“ (Standing Committee of Council on Planning andNeighbourhoods, April 5, 1990). The recommendations were revised by the Standing Committeeand put forward to City Council who then approved the final recommendations. In followingCouncil’s instruction to locate a safe house, it was the responsibility of Housing and Properties tolocate either a house for the Province to rent, or land which the Province could purchase.During this same time period, Vancouver City Council approved in principle a proposal to rezonethe Downtown South area to allow and encourage redevelopment to high density residential andcommercial activity. It was predicted by the Social Planning Department that if and when suchredevelopment did occur, it would have a significant impact on the area’s street youth populationand the services provided to them. As a result, the Downtown South Area Services Team(DSAST) was established to deal with the problems arising from the changing nature of theDowntown South area, and the impacts change would have on the present population. The teamwas comprised of representatives from municipal/provincial government and non-governmentagencies.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 61Beginning in the early part of 1992, the society SKID2 (Street Kids In Distress Association) beganto receive a significant amount of media attention. In the eight month period prior to October1992, several attempts were made by existing social service agencies and committees to meet withthe Director of the Association to provide infonnation concerning the current network of services.‘While some attempts were successful, the majority were not. Difficulties were encountered byexisting service agencies in developing an ongoing, cooperative working relationship with SKID.In the eyes of some organizations, it appeared that SKID was attempting to receive funds only toduplicate existing services.The City of Vancouver became involved in the issue as a result of staffs’ participation on variouscommittees attempting to make contact with SKID. In addition, the Permits and LicensesDepartment became involved for two reasons - first, because the Association was operating out ofa warehouse without the necessary permits and second, from a health and safety perspective, it wasa potential hazard.As a result of media attention given to SKID, the City reassessed its involvement in the provisionof services to street youth. By the end of 1992, the Social Planning Department and individualsfrom the community were preparing a proposal for a Downtown South ‘Gathering Place’. Thisfacility would provide low-cost food, showers, lockers, books, information and a place to socialize.Arising out of Council’s approval of the April 1990 recommendation regarding a safe house foryouth and the knowledge that the Ministry of Social Services was going to receive funding for such2 Street Kids in Distress Association (SKID) was an organization formed in December 1991 tohelp street kids achieve basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter. In addition to satis1ingtheir immediate needs, the organization attempted to provide access to long term rehabilitation needs.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 62a facility, City staff began working with the Ministry and a group of young male prostitutes todevelop a ‘safe house’ for youth aged 16-18 years. The involvement of Housing and Properties inthis work consisted of searching for an appropriate site. Lastly, staff were preparing to approachthe Ministry to offer the lease of a City-owned house to acconimodate youth desiring to move awayfrom the street environment.Much of the above stated activity had also been a result of Council policy regarding social housing.On May 16, 1991 Council endorsed ‘the principle of developing in Downtown South new socialhousing, constructing unsubsidized SRO replacement projects and retaining and upgrading theexisting SRO stock as required in the absence of new replacement housing, with priority given tohousing the existing long-term Downtown South residents” (City of Vancouver Housing andProperties and Social Planning Depts., January 29, 1993). While the intended target group of thispolicy was older single persons in the Downtown South area, the attention raised by SKID forcedthe City to re-examine its policy regarding who was a ‘long-term resident’. Questions the Cityneeded to address included ‘should an age limit define who was a long-term resident?’, ‘shouldsuch a person be defined by their receipt of an income supplement?’ or ‘should such a person bedefined based upon their length of time in the area?’Tn January 1993, the Street Youth Housing Committee was formed as a subcommittee of theDowntown South Area Services Team. Its purpose was to address the issue of youth and housingin the Downtown South area. The target population was youth between the ages of 16 and 24 whodid not require child protection services, and demonstrated some degree of independence. Therationale in selecting this subgroup was that they were excluded from Federal-Provincial housingprograms, tended not to access traditional emergency housing resources, and remained highlyHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 63susceptible to involvement in crime, sex trade exploitation, substance abuse, and sickness andpotential death due to dangerous and unhealthy living conditions.Also in January 1993, the Departments ofHousing and Properties and Social Planning prepared anAdministrative Report to City Council. The report identified three service gaps. The first was aGathering Place - a shelter for youth aged 16 to 18. Although this facility was mentioned as anarea requiring attention, it was one issue currently being addressed by the City.The second service gap reported was an emergency shelter for youth aged 16-18 years. In previousyears the City had focused its resources on long-term secure housing rather than developing short-term shelters. A major problem cited by the City in developing shelters was that while they addressshort-term problems, the buildings often become long-term housing. In addition, individuals whouse shelters often require various support services - services which are the responsibility of theProvincial Government. Lastly, the City had not participated in the provision of shelters because itwas felt that non-profit societies, who commonly operate these facilities, have developed anexpertise in the various service areas. While the City has been involved in providing emergencyshelter, this housing provision has only been made available on an ‘as-needed basis’. Upon theopening of a shelter, arrangements are immediately made through the Tenant Assistance Programto find permanent housing for the temporary residents. In the past, individuals who have receivedemergency shelter from the City have been both young and old, and have faced eviction from theirhotels for reasons of redevelopment, fire, or closure.The last service gap concerned housing for young adults (individuals aged 19-30 years). It was theCity’s position that these people were typically working or receiving either UnemploymentHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 64Insurance or Income Assistance, and therefore able to afford market rental SRO accommodations(approx. $325/month). Further, Council had previously approved housing policy in 1991 to focusmunicipal efforts on providing housing for long-term Downtown South residents. It was noted thata problem in housing street youth is that the Provincial and Federal governments do not view singlepeople as a priority. The only exception to date had been housing for disabled singles anddowntown seniors where eligibility began at age 40. It was stated that Housing and Propertieswould begin to work with the Province to review the possibility of the Province reconsidering itseligibility criteria for social housing projects in the Downtown South area.The report provided a number of recommendations of which one specifically addressed housing forstreet youth. It was stated as follows: ‘That the Director of Housing and Properties, inconsultation with the Director of Social Planning, be instructed to work with the Ministry of SocialServices and service agencies to help develop workable housing options for eligible street involvedyouth” (City of Vancouver Housing and Properties and Social Planning Depts., January 29, 1993).On January 26, 1993, the City of Vancouver issued an eviction notice to the SKID Associationrequiring them to vacate the building they were occupying. As a result, the youth staged a sit-in -sleeping on the streets during the night and using the premises during the day. In addition, youthwho were not members of SKID were being drawn to the situation and beginning to participate inthe sit-in. To alleviate the problem and avoid the potential of trouble arising, a six person teamwas created to evaluate the needs of each SKID member and to provide a solution for each youth.However, such an individualized needs assessment never occurred as a result of a lack of intereston the part of the youth, and in its place a general meeting took place. On January 28, 1993 theSKID Association vacated the building.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 65The Ministry of Government Services suspended the powers of the Street Kids in DistressAssociation on February 24, 1993 for reasons of violations against the Society Act and otherpublic interest concerns. In this same announcement, the Ministers of Social Services andMunicipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing officially stated that provincial funding was availablefor the creation of a safe house. The facility was to provide six beds for temporary emergencyshelter to street youth in crisis between the ages of 16 and 18. Although the original task oflocating a site was a joint effort between the City of Vancouver Housing and PropertiesDepartment and the Province, it was the Province who found a site for the safe house in the end.In response to a request by the Ministry of Social Housing for street youth housing, the Ministry ofMunicipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing announced on March 23, 1993 a provincial housingplan to aid homeless, street youth, and individuals at-risk. Approximately 166 units of specialneeds housing was intended to be developed in Victoria, Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, and PowellRiver. The initiative included $7.52 million in one time capital expenditures and $3.03 million inannual operating costs. Of the funds allocated to projects in Vancouver, $2.8 million was allocatedfor the creation of 25 units to serve the needs of street youth aged 18 to 25 years. Future tenantswere expected to participate in existing community programs and services including life skills andemployment counselling and training, drug and alcohol counselling, mental health outreachcounselling, and street youth counselling.While housing and youth advocates were pleased that the needs of street youth were beingrecognized, concern was expressed regarding the feasibility of creating a single large project. Toalleviate this concern, the Province and the Departments of Social Planning and Housing andProperties initiated a community-based process to develop a plan for street youth housing. OtherHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 66groups/agencies involved in the process included the IMSCC, the Street Youth Housing Subcommittee of the DSAST, BC Housing Management Committee and the Downtown GranvilleTenants Association. A series of workshops were held in May 1993 to develop a plan whichwould outline a suitable location(s) for the housing, the number of building sites, the number ofunits per site, and the management structure of the project(s). A criteria of the service plan wasthat it had to be supported by existing community agencies and existing budgets, as additionalprogram operational dollars were not available. As a result of the work undertaken by thecommunity representatives and youth advocates, it was recommended that three projects bedeveloped, each with 8 self-contained units, to serve the needs of youth in the Downtown Eastsideand Downtown South areas. The projects were targeted to serve the needs of youth who haddemonstrated an interest in moving away from their street-oriented lifestyle.Evolving out of the consultation process between the Province, service providers and thecommunity, and the criteria that sponsors needed to be experienced in dealing with street youth,three sponsors were given conditional approval. The selected sponsors were United NativesNations (UNN), Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) and First Baptist Church. The BritishColumbia Housing and Management Commission provided funding for the projects.In acquiring property for social housing, it was Council policy that Council ‘purchase privately-held parcels for social housing and lease them to non-profit sponsors for 60 years at a prepaid rentequal to 75 % of market value” (City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Dept., September 21,1993). Therefore, recognizing the need to acquire three sites for the provision of 8-unitdevelopments for street youth housing, on September 21, 1993, it was recommended ‘That Councilinstruct the Director of Housing and Properties to negotiate offers to purchase three sites, subjectHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 67to Council approval, to be leased for 60 years at a prepaid rent equal to 75 % of market value toUnited Native Nations, First Baptist Church and Vancouver Native Health Society for street youthsocial housing” (City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Dept., September 21, 1993).On February 15, 1994 Vancouver City Council approved the City Manager’s recommendation that‘tity Council approve the acquisition of the property at 1818 East Pender Street ... for lease toUnited Native Nations” (City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Dept., February 3, 1994). OnFebruary 25, 1994 the City Manager recommended to Council that ‘ounci1 approve in principlethe leasing of the City-owned site at 600 Vernon [Old Kiwassa Neighbourhood House] ... toVancouver Native Health Society”(City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Dept., February 25,1994). A third property was not found because First Baptist Church withdrew their sponsorship inthe middle of February 1994.As a result of the withdrawal of sponsorship by First Baptist Church, three issues needed to thenbe addressed: should a third sponsor be found, should the units be distributed between the othertwo projects, and should they reinitiate the original planning process? At a meeting held onFebruary 24, 1994 between Housing and Properties and IMSCC, these three issues were discussedand a decision was reached on each issue. It was concluded that the process continue ahead withonly two sites, since sufficient time did not exist to find a third sponsor, and on the condition thatDowntown South street youth be accommodated within the two projects. VNHS agreed to aproject size of 15 units and UNN agreed to develop a 10-unit project. It was also decided that thecommunities affected needed to be involved in discussing and approving the expansions of theprojects. The individuals in attendance ensured that the original people involved in the projects’planning would be notified of the day’s decisions.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 68In April 1994, a meeting was held involving all the individuals participating in the housing process.The agencies and societies in attendance were Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Skills,Training and Labour, City of Vancouver staff, UNN, VNHS, YWCA, Gordon House YouthWorks, and Family Services of Greater Vancouver. The discussion centered on the issues ofeligibility, length of time a youth is entitled to remain at the facility, support services, and fundingfor on-site management. At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that each sponsor societywas to individually grapple with these issues. In addition, each sponsor was to work in conjunctionwith their respective youth advisory committee to receive input on both physical planning mattersand management issues. It was decided that the individuals involved in the April meeting wouldmeet again in September 1994 to discuss how each society sees itself operating.In the period between April and September 1994, the City of Vancouver has and will continue towork with the two sponsor societies and their architects to develop building plans and aid themthrough the development approval process. It is anticipated by City staff that developmentapproval will be achieved in early 1995 and building construction will soon follow. Presently,there are no other initiatives being planned for street youth housing in the City of Vancouver.3.6 Housing Options to Street YouthIn Vancouver there exists three types of housing for youth. These include Ministry-providedhousing, self-financed market housing, and non-paid housing.a. Ministry-provided HousingA variety of ministry-provided housing services are available to Vancouver’s street youthpopulation. For youth to access the majority of these services, they must be under the care of theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 69Ministry of Social Services. The types and forms of housing range from short-termaccommodation, where a variety of support services are available to help youth make decisionsregarding their first steps away from the street, to independent living, where youth are residing intheir own accommodations and possibly receiving support services. In the middle lie shelters orhostels, temporary facilities in which older youth live until they are able to secure pennanentaccommodation, and group and foster homes, where a diversity of structured environments exist toserve the varied needs of the youth.b. Short-term AccommodationSafe HouseCurrently, there is only one safe house in Vancouver. The purpose of the facility is to provide asafe, stress-free, and non-pressured environment in which youth can come to and learn of thevarious services and options available to them. In providing such an environment, it enables youthto make informed decisions. It is the youth’s own decision to arrive at the safe house, and thefacility does not require the youth to be a ward of the state in order to receive shelter and supportservicesThe length of stay at the safe house is 7 calendar days. The first 48 hours that a youth is at thefacility a parent, legal guardian, or social worker is not contacted. However, after this ‘grace’ or‘cooling out’ period, a staff member must attempt to contact one of the above three mentionedindividuals. The majority of youth remain for the full 7 days.The safe house attempts to target curb-kids - youth who are starting to become entrenched in streetlife. Although the facility is intended to serve youth 16 to 18 years of age, no youth will ever beHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 70turned away. Youth aged 13 to 15 years are able to stay at the safe house one night and then staffmust contact Emergency Services. The number of younger youth that arrive at the facility is beingdocumented by staff. The data being collected appears to resemble data being collected by otherservice agencies in Vancouver regarding the ages of street youth, and supports the statement thatthe number of younger youth on the street is increasing.The concept of the safe house evolved out of a process in which a group of young male prostitutesfrom Boys Town were discussing their housing needs. They suggested that a housing continuumwas needed - a continuum that was based upon a resident’s level of independence, Individualswould move from dependent living environments, where they would receive high levels of supportservices, to independent situations, where they would receive very little or no support services.From developing this continuum, it was identified that a safe house was greatly needed by streetyouth desiring to extricate themselves from the street environment. Planning for the safe housebegan in February 1993 and was a cooperative effort undertaken by the young males from BoysTown, Christopher Graham (the current supervisor/manager of the facility), and municipalplanning staff. The planning involved everything from the facility’s operation, available services,to building layout. Even though a youth’s state at the facility is directly fimded by the Ministry ofSocial Services, the safe house is operated under contract by Family Services of GreaterVancouver.The facility officially began operation on December 17, 1993. Since its opening, the facility hasprovided a safe and secure shelter to 115 youth. Twenty of these youth have had repeat stays atthe safe house. While there is always a turnover of youth, the beds have never been empty. TheHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 71majority of youth have been referred to the facility by the Downtown Eastside Youth ActivitiesSociety (DEYAS), Street Youth Services (SYS), and ASU. However, the greatest advocates of thesafe house are the youth themselves; on the street, information travels quickly via word of mouth.The staff at the safe house attempt to repatriate the youth to their home or home community, ifpossible. Staff believe there are always three sides to every conflict - the youth’s story, theparent’s story, and the truth of the situation. The majority of the time staff at the facility believethe youth’s story. They believe that for a youth to be fleeing their family home and seeking refugeat the safe house, the family problem must be severe. In addition, because it is the youth’s decisionto arrive at the safe house, the youth is demonstrating they want to make a change.Staff strive to create trust and a rapport with the youth. Staff work together with the youth toestablish goals and pathways for the youth to leave the street. Because youth choose to be at thesafe house, staff have realistic expectations of the youth, and many youth are able to fulfill theirgoals.It was expressed by staff at the safe house that there are no such things as rules - everything iseither negotiable or non-negotiable. Non-negotiable issues include no drugs or accessories, noalcohol, no sex, no discrimination, no verbal or physical abuse to either residents or staff, noweapons, and no curfew. Although there is no curfew, if a youth does not return by 12 noon thefollowing day, they are then considered to be discharged as there is always a high demand for the 6single bedrooms. It is the opinion of staff that by having no rules, there is less reason on the partof the youth to want to rebel or show defiance.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 72Even though it was stated that there are no ‘rules’, the question needs to be asked ‘If certain issuesare non-negotiable, then are they not rules?’ Are the concepts and intentions remaining the same,and only the language and words being used changing? If this is the case, youth may be fallingvictim to ‘doublespeak’.Staff at the facility believe that the safe house is achieving its intended purpose. It is their opinionthat the two most significant aspects of the facility which make it successfiul are its relativelyunstructured environment and staff’youth relationships. The lack of traditional requirements andrestrictions help foster stronger bonds and levels of trust between the staff and youth. The fact thatyouth are choosing to be at the safe house and that goals and expectations are self-imposed,illustrates that youth are wanting to make a change. By creating a stress-free environment, staffbelieve they are able to develop a close rapport with the youth and thus enhance the feeling of trust.lii addition, they feel that the facility’s environment creates strong staff-youth workingrelationships. In turn, youth are able to build self-esteem and self-confidence. Further, it is staffsopinion that the lack of a structured environment creates a sense of freedom, which in turn fostersgreater cooperation from the youth. Lastly, the 48 hour grace period allows the youth to ‘cool out’and collect their thoughts.While not originally part of the facility’s management structure, service restrictions have begun tobe implemented. This provision arose because some youth began to come and go rather frequentlyfrom the safe house and did not express a genuine desire to change their situation. However, therestriction is not definite because a service provider can never be sure when a youth is genuineabout altering their state of affairs. The one time a youth is not believed may be the time that theyouth is serious about making a change. The restriction is such that on a youth’s fourth visit to theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 73safe house, the youth will not be allowed to access the facility’s services unless they are able todemonstrate their will to change; the youth must be able to identify a case plan for themself and thesupport services they will require.Staff are presently considering changing the length of stay to a maximum of 7 working days or 9calendar days. This change is being considered because much of mainstream society operates on a5-day work week and not all services are available every day of the calendar week.Receiving HomesThe Ministry of Social Services, through contracts to various societies and agencies, provides avariety of the more traditional forms of state-provided housing. At the emergency end of thehousing spectrum are receiving homes (e.g. Watson House, Grace House). This is commonly theentry point for youth into the care system. These homes are a short stay resource where youthremain at the facility for a length of time ranging from one month to 6 weeks. These facilities arestaffed 24 hours and typically have 5-6 beds. Staff provide a risk assessment of the youth and helpplan the youth’s future placement. A youth’s stay at a receiving home is directly funded by theMinistry of Social Services.c. Long-term HousingGroup HomesResource group homes are the next form of housing in the spectrum of state-provided care.Typically, the most troubled and disturbed youth are placed in these settings. Group homesprovide structured environments in which the youth live. In these environments, youth have accessto a variety of support services such as substance abuse counselling, mental health counselling, andHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 74peer support. Although the maximum number of youth in any group home is 5 and the norm is 3,the number of youth in a home depends upon the skill and experience of the care giver and theyouth’s level of need. In Vancouver, there are between 60 to 80 group home beds funded by theMinistry of Social Services Region B office.3 A youth is not responsible for paying rent. Rather,the cost of their stay at a group home is directly paid by the Ministry of Social Services.Group homes are often operated under contract by a non-profit society or individual, and in somehomes support staff is available. In all situations, the service provider is paid to care for the youth.Foster HomesFoster homes are less structured environments compared to group homes and attempt to create afamily setting. There are four types of foster care. The first is a restricted foster home. This formof care is the least expensive to fund. In this situation, the care giver knows the child/youth andwhen the youth leaves the home, the care giver does not receive another child/youth. Theremaining types of care are referred to as Levels 1-3 - Level 1 being the least costly and Level 3the most expensive. The level of skill and experience of the care giver increases as the level of careincreases (1 being low and 3 being high).In a foster home, the care provided to the youth is more specialized and individualized than the careprovided in a group home setting. Attempts are made to match the youth to the care giver.Typically there are 1-2 beds per foster home. There are approximately 80 foster home beds fundedThe geographical jurisdiction of Region B includes the Vancouver downtown core, North shore,Squamish, Sechelt, and east Vancouver. The geographical jurisdiction of Region A includes False Creeksouth to Richmond, UBC to Renfrew, and North and South Delta.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 75by the Region B office. Similar to group homes, a youth’s stay at a foster home is directly paid bythe Ministry of Social Services.Semi-Independent LivingSemi-independent living is a form of permanent housing funded by the Ministry and operated undercontract to outside agencies. In this situation, the youth who is typically 17 or 18 years of age,lives in a self-contained suite in a house and is provided with life-skills support (e.g. shopping,cooking, budgeting).Independent LivingAt the other end of the Ministry-provided housing spectrum is independent living. It is the intent ofthe Ministry that every youth in care shall develop life skills within a family unit, or if not possible,within an adult-supervised living arrangement However, in situations where all the preferredalternatives are not possible, a youth may be placed into an independent living resource.It is only youth who are eligible for Income Assistance that are able to obtain independent living;as such, it is predominantly 17 and 18 year olds that are able to enter into this type of housingarrangement. On rare occasion, a 16 year old may be placed into independent living. An eligibleyouth must also be a permanent or temporary ward of the state. Lastly, an eligible youth must bewilling to enter into a written agreement with the Ministry. The agreement outlines the personalgoals that will help the youth achieve independence and it covers matters such as schoolattendance, vocational training and skills development, employment, behavioural goals, budgeting,the youth’s true identity, and the frequency of payments.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 76If a youth is eligible for this form of housing, it is the responsibility of the youth to find their ownrental unit. Prior to receiving Income Assistance, the youth must show to the Ministry that theyhave located a unit to rent. This is the only situation in Ministry care where a youth is givenfinancial assistance to seek out market-priced rental accommodation.For a youth in independent living wanting to access support services, they must go to the servicesrather than the services coming to them. However, for youth requiring substance abuse help thereexists an ‘in-home’ detox program.I. Temporary AccommodationShelters and hostels are two forms of temporary housing which the Ministry of Social Servicesprovides through contract to outside agencies. The difference between a shelter and a hostel isbased upon the type of people they provide the services to - hostels provide room and board totransient single people, primarily males, while shelters provide room and board to single parentsand families,Admittance into a shelter can be achieved either through Ministry referral or self-referral. If anindividual refers themseif to a hostellshelter they are entitled to remain either one night, or over theweekend if they admit themseif on a Friday night. The following business day the hostel refers theindividual to the Ministry office where s/he applies for Income Assistance and is assessed byMinistry staff. If an individual’s application is accepted, they are entitled to either IncomeAssistance, which they receive after showing they have located an accommodation, or remain at thehostellshelter. In the latter situation, the individual is allowed to remain at the facility up to onemonth, during which time they must be actively searching for permanent accommodation. While atHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 77the facility, the individual’s stay is directly funded by the Ministry of Social Services. Abusedwomen and single mothers may remain at a second stage shelter for up to 6 months. Whileresiding at the hostel/shelter, the individual’s stay is paid for by the Ministry and food is providedeither on-site, through an arrangement with a restaurant, or in the form of vouchers. Typically, ahigh level of support services is not associated with shelters or hostels.It is primarily older youth aged 17 to 18 years who find shelter in hostels. Youth who are 16 yearsof age and younger are commonly placed by the Ministry into group or foster homes. There areeight shelters/hostels in the City of Vancouver. Of these eight shelters, youth are usually onlyreferred by the Ministry to three of them - these include Catholic Charities, Dunsmuir House andPowell Place. Young males are referred to either Catholic Charities or Dunsmuir House and theseindividuals cannot be alcohol or drug users. Young female mothers are referred to Powell Place asthis shelter accepts only women and children. The other five facilities are inappropriate for youthas they service men and women with severe mental and substance abuse problems.e. Sdf-Financed Market HousingSelf-financed market housing includes all forms of market housing that a youth is able to secureusing their own financial resources. For youth not in state care, there is a near non-existent supplyof affordable, quality, secure and safe accommodations. The types of self-financed market housingyouth are able to afford include hotels and apartments. However, most youth have difficultiesremaining in these living situations for extended periods of time because of behavioural problemsor lack of financial resources. Youth who seek shelter in hotels or apartments tend to live ingroups so that they are able to pooi their resources.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 78f Non-Paid HousingNon-paid accommodations include illegal squats/abandoned buildings, hotel/motel rooms paid forby ‘johns’, a friend’s house, alcoves, hot-air vents and the street. While some youth are housed bytheir boyfriend or pimp, they earn their stay through the use of their body.g. Outside ServicesThere is a variety of services available to all street youth. However, the level of accessibility tosupport services are greater for youth who are temporarily housed in the safe house or receivinghomes, or live permanently in group homes, foster homes, or semi-independent living situations. Inthe majority of these housing situations, the services come to the youth. Youth who reside atshelters/hostels, in independent living, or in non-ministry provided housing do not experience thesame level of accessibility. Rather, they must seek out the services.The range of services available include mental health counselling, alcohol/drug abuse counselling,free medical clinics, needle exchange, STD counselling, pregnancy counselling, employmenttraining, alternative schooling, and referral services. To access these services youth do not have tobe referred by a Ministry worker.h. Learningsfrom Past Street Youth Housing ExperiencesUnsuccessful past experiences in providing housing for street youth produce an excellent source ofreference for developing future housing. One such example is the ‘Senator’. For less than a twoyear period between March 1981 and December 1983, this facility operated to provide housing andthe necessary support services to street youth aged 17 to 19 years.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies andAvailable Housing Options 79The shelter component of the facility was managed by the Alternate Shelter Society under contractfrom the Ministry of Human Resources, and access into the facility was achieved only through astreet worker. After the maximum stay of 30 days, a youth was expected to be ready to move intoeither follow-up resources, continue their education, or obtain employment.The ‘Senator’ provided a number of services other than housing including crisis intervention, jobplacement, health services, educational programs, life skills program, drop-in drug/alcoholcounselling program, food, laundry, showers, outreach, and educational outings. Despite thisextensive list of support services, the facility suffered from a number of service provision andphysical problems which led to its closure on December 31, 1983.Prior to its closure, a report produced by Ministry of Human Resources in August 1983 cited thefacility’s various problems. Service problems included a lack of effectiveness in the specificservices provided, a lack of information regarding the facility’s operation due to mistrust betweenstaff and the outside professional community, the clustering of services within the housing facility,a lack of screening criteria, a lack of transition housing for youth leaving the facility, and youthover extending their stay (i.e. youth remaining in the housing for 3 months rather than one).Problems concerning the physical aspect of the complex included its proximity to the downtown,the building layout, and the large size of the facility.The failure of the ‘Senator’ and the lessons learned from its short life are reflected in a City ofVancouver decision (January 29, 1993) that the Gresham and Old Continental Hotels, two Cityowned hotels, were unsuitable facilities to house street youth. Reasons cited for the hotels’inappropriateness were their proximity to the heart of street activity along Granville Street and theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 3: Background Research, Governing Bodies and Available Housing Options 80large number of rooms within each facility. In addition, past experiences in housing have shownthat ‘ghettoizing’ one sub-population within a single facility generates a diversity of otherproblems.A second recent incident in Vancouver which reflects the enlightenment from the ‘Senator’experience is the location of the safe house. The safe house is situated in the Mount Pleasantneighbourhood. This location is well removed from the focal points of street activity either in theGranville Mall or Downtown Eastside areas. Despite its distance from the heart of street life,youth are continually accessing the facility’s services and since its opening, the beds have neverbeen empty. In addition, it is believed the small size of the facility enables trust to be developedbetween the youth and staff, thus enabling better working relationships to be formed. From otherhousing experiences, it has been found that in large facilities the needs of the individual oftenbecome lost in the crowd.A third incident which illustrates that location is a critical factor when developing housing forstreet youth is the ‘non-implementation’ of a project that was to be developed at the intersection ofMain and Hastings Streets. This intersection forms the centre of the Downtown Eastside area.Among people familiar with the area, it is known as ‘Cocaine Corner’. A significant amount ofopposition was raised regarding the possible choice to utilize an existing building at this location toprovide housing for street youth. As a result, the project was abandoned and currently there are noattempts being made to find an alternative location.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 81CHAPTER 4: STREET YOUTH IN VANCOUVER: A STUDY OF THEIRHOUSING ENVIRONMENT4.1 Introduction and MethodologyTo understand the complex issue of street youth and housing as it exists in Vancouver, two sets ofinterviews were conducted. The first set of interviews were undertaken with service providers whowork with or are knowledgeable about street youth. The second set of interviews were conductedwith street youth. The list of all persons interviewed is in Appendix A.With the assistance of a City of Vancouver planner, an initial contact list of service providers wasdeveloped. During the process of interviewing the original persons on the contact list, other nameswere provided - individuals the interviewees thought were knowledgeable regarding the plight ofyouth and the struggles they face in securing housing. In total, 11 service providers wereinterviewed. Their involvement with youth ranged from everyday face-to-face contact tooccasional contact.The service provider interviews served two purposes. First, to gain insight into the various piecesof legislation which affect youth and their ability to access housing, the variety and quality ofhousing available, and other social barriers preventing youth from securing housing. Second, tolearn how service providers envisioned an ‘ideal’ continuum of housing. The questions asked ofthe service providers are listed in Appendix B.Two types of youth were interviewed- youth who currently live a life on the street, and youth whohave successfully extricated themselves from a street environment and now lead a ‘mainstream’life. The ages of the youth interviewed ranged between 15 years and late twenties. Although partHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 82of the definition of youth used in this thesis is a person between the ages of 12 and 18, individuals19 years of age and over were interviewed because these individuals had once led a street life andwere able to provide valuable insights into the many problems faced by street youth in their attemptto secure housing.Contact was made with street involved youth through the DEYAS Detox Centre located at 432 E.Hastings Street. Approval to talk to the youth was first sought and achieved from one of theCentre’s front-line service providers. A 2.5 hour time period was spent at the Centre talking toyouth who were using the Centre’s services. Youth were asked about the problems they faced intrying to secure housing, and the types and quality of the accommodations they were able to secure.The second group of youth interviewed were staff members of the Federation of B.C. Youth inCare Networks. Appendix C lists the questions posed to both groups of youth. These questionsprovided only the skeleton to the discussions which took place.This Chapter is divided into three sections. The first section discusses the results of the interviewswith the service providers. The second section is a discussion of the current housing environmentas experienced and expressed by youth themselves. The last section provides an overview of theinterview responses, and reflects upon the types of responses provided by the youth.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 834.2 The Service Provider’s PerspectiveFrom the interviews conducted with the service providers a myriad of issues were outlined whichdirectly affect or indirectly influence a youth’s ability to secure housing. The issues have beencategorized into four general problem areas - legislative policy, the current market housingenvironment, the state-provided care system, and the social development of youth.a. Legislative PolicyThe two pieces of current legislation which affect youth and their ability to secure housing are theFamily and Child Service Act (F & CS) and the Guaranteed Available Income for Need Act(GAIN). The F & CS Act allows the Ministry of Social Services to bring an individual under theage of 19 into care and become their guardian. The GAINAct allows youth aged 17 and 18 yearsto receive financial assistance for either securing housing, day to day living expenses, or both.Family and Child Service ActThere are numerous problems associated with the F & CS Act. The language used in the Actcarries with it many negative connotations. Youth who are receiving state care are referred to as‘wards of the state’ and the process of bringing a youth into care is termed ‘apprehension’.Although these are only two examples of the terminology used in the Act, they clearly illustratethat the terms being applied function to create a mindset that youth in care are deviants andcriminals,The F & CS Act allows anyone under the age of 19 to safe housing. For the Ministry to apprehenda youth, they must prove that the youth is at risk (i.e. in personal mental and/or physical danger) intheir present situation. There are two avenues the Ministry may follow to bring a youth into care.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Sfreet Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 84The Ministry can either achieve parental agreement or if not possible, a court order. Tosuccessfully proceed forward, the Ministry requires the trust and cooperation of the youth, butoften, youth neither trust nor cooperate with the Ministry. As a result, the efforts of the Ministryare commonly thwarted.The youth’s lack of trust and cooperation is a result of a feeling characteristic among many youth -that their parents, schools, and police have done them wrong and let them down. Often, it has beenadults in a position of trust who have caused youth much pain. In addition, there is a negativestigma attached to state care and youth are leery of trusting government staff Many youth whohave taken flight from group or foster homes have had bad experiences in these environments.The implementation of Bill 46 will allow the Ministry to enter into voluntary agreements withyouth 16 years and older. It is anticipated that this change will alleviate problems of uncooperativeparents, the youth’s fear of state care, the youth’s apprehension to trust adults, and time delaysassociated with the court system.A third problem with the current Act is that support services cease to exist for youth once theyreach the age of 19. At age 19, the individual is considered an adult by government legal standardsand must seek services in the adult world of service provision. In the eyes of one service provider,a youth is any individual between the age of 13 and 24. Although a street youth may be physically24 years of age, their cognizant, social, and mental level may be similar to that of a mainstream 16year old. When an individual turns from 18 to 19 years of age, their social development level doesnot change simultaneously. However, the Act as it exists today, causes a youth’s ‘mental body’ tobe denied the needed support services they were once entitled to. It is anticipated that whenHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 85implemented, Bill 46 will address the issue of cessation of support services at age 19, as it willallow any individual in care on their 1 9th birthday to continue to receive services for any 2 yearperiod up until the age of 24.In providing residential care to youth, it was noted by a few front-line service providers that theMinistry primarily provides state housing to youth 15 years and under. Although it is legislatedthat the Ministry shall provide safe housing to youth under 19 years, 16 to 18 years olds arecommonly left to find their own housing. One service provider was of the opinion that there isresistance within the Ministry to apprehend youth aged 16 years and older.Guaranteed Available Incomefor Need Act (GAIN)It was noted by some of the interviewees that there are two significant inconsistencies associatedwith the Underage Income Assistance policy in the GAIN Act. These inconsistencies are the valueof the financial aid and the nature of the policy.Youth turn to Income Assistance because they are either not accepted by the Ministry to receivestate-provided care, are leery of group and foster homes, or lack their own financial resources tosecure housing. What little money a youth may have is never enough to rent a quality market unit.Through Income Assistance, a youth is able to receive a maximum of $325 per month for housing.To secure a quality one-bedroom residence in downtown Vancouver without sharing, this amountof money is terribly insufficient. As a result, youth end up renting degrading and unsaferesidences.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 86It is the discretionary nature of the policy which creates an even greater problem for youth inaccessing Income Assistance, and in turn, housing. The manner in which the policy isimplemented, that is the determination of eligibility, is based upon the policy’s interpretation, andthe interpretation of the policy is the responsibility of the managers of the individual financial aidworkers. Allowing each individual to interpret policy creates wild variations across the province.Workers with less experience often do not possess the ability to manipulate the policy, and thus aremore rigid and inflexible in their interpretation. It is only the youth who suffer, as they are thevictims of inconsistent decision-making and thus experience confusion and uncertainty regardingtheir eligibility.It was stated by one service provider that they have been instructed to deal with one specificfinancial aid worker because that individual’s manager has interpreted policy such that 17 and 18year olds are able to receive Income Assistance. On rare occasion, a 16 year old may be eligiblefor Income Assistance, but they must demonstrate a unique and extreme condition and receive arecommendation by an Adolescent Street Unit staff person.The stipulation that a youth, eligible to receive the housing component of Income Assistance, priorto receiving any dollars must prove to the Ministry that an apartment has been found throughproviding an ‘Intent to Rent’ form does not create a full proof system. As mentioned by onegovernment employee, many youth have begun to produce fake forms in order to feed their alcoholor drug addictions. For these youth, housing is never secured-only their addiction.It was noted by two interviewees that the specific regulations of Income Assistance createdisincentives for two people, both receiving Income Assistance, to live as a dependent couple. IfHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 87two individual people are receiving Income Assistance the maximum shelter component eachperson can receive is $325/month. If these two people were to live together as two independentpersons, their total shelter component would value $650/month. However, if these same twopeople were to live together in a dependent situation, their total shelter component would value$520/month. In addition, the total support component they could receive is $383/month ascompared to $442/month for two independent persons pooling their money.Recognizing the fact that this regulation causes dependent couples to receive less total IncomeAssistance than two people living independently, many youth choose to live independently.However, searching for a one-bedroom unit with only $325 available for rent is more difficult thansearching for the same size unit with $520 available for rent.A second aspect of the regulations, which occurs in conjunction with the first, and creates adisincentive for two people to live together is that the Ministry of Social Services provides a sheltercomponent equal to the value of the rent or a maximum of $325 ($520 for a couple) - which ever isthe lesser of the two. Therefore, if a couple living dependently finds an apartment for $400/month,the Ministry will provide them with $400/month and not $520/month. This regulation preventstwo people from living together and being innovative in the housing they secure. If the regulationdid not exist, two people could receive housing for an amount lower than their combined sheltercomponents and use the remainder of the shelter component to help pay for their everyday livingexpenses.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 88Bills 45 and 46It was asked of some interviewees if Bills 45 and 46 will make any improvements to the currentsystem. While some people noted the positive changes that the new legislation intends to create,others noted that its success will be very much dependent upon interpretation and the determinationto change. As evident in the current system, there is a difference between policy intent and thereality of the situation. This difference was also applied to Bill 46. It was a strong belief of oneinterviewee that unless there are major changes, in particular attitude changes regarding youth,within the Ministry and at the front-line (social workers, financial aid workers) - the latter being themore crucial- the impacts of the new legislation will never reach their potential. Further, thesuccess of Bill 46 is limited to the degree individuals alter their method of practice.A second uncertainty regarding the new legislation was its ability to be financially implemented.Although the legislation allows the Ministry to perform more creative support services prior to ayouth’s apprehension, it was the hope expressed by one interviewee that the financial resources willbe available for the Ministry to follow through with its intentions.Third, it was noted that a difference exits between supporting families and family preservation.Bill 46 should not be interpreted as family preservation at any cost. In some settings, separatingfamily members temporarily to deal with their individual problems is more effective and fostersbetter family futures.Bill 45 was described as having tremendous potential. However, much of its success is dependentupon who gets the job. It was stated that whoever receives the position must possess the ability toplan and continue with a phased plan of implementation as there will be great pressure toHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 89demonstrate change within a short period of time. A second major challenge will be bringing youthto the forefront. It is often wrongly assumed that ‘consumers’ are easily able to fit into a foreignenvironment and be productive. To be truly involved, youth will need support services. It wasnoted that the Youth Advocate must possess the ability to find ways (e.g. time to adjust, access toinformation) of making youth feel comfortable in their new role.b. The Market Housing EnvironmentHousing ResourcesThe most blatant issue facing youth is the lack of housing resources. The existing housingenvironment does not contain subsidized housing for youth, and the quality market housing whichis available is not affordable. Up until 1992, the Federal and Provincial governments did notconsider street youth a priority group in need of subsidized housing- the funding emphasis wastargeted at seniors and families. For street youth with children, in attempting to access the currentsupply of subsidized housing, they face two key barriers - long waiting lists and the discretion usedby housing managers in selecting and placing future tenants.The inability to access affordable housing goes hand in hand with a youth’s inability to accessquality housing. Most youth who have the financial ability to secure their own housing typicallyaccess Vancouver’s downtown single-room occupancy hotels. These rundown and filthy rooms arethe only form of housing youth are either able to afford or are accepted into as tenants. Youthliving in these situations are often exploited and not respected as a person paying rent.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 90Equitable AccessEquitable access to housing is a second issue affecting street youth. This issue consists of twosub-components- access to information and discrimination. The majority of street youth do notknow the various sources from which they can access housing information. In addition, muchinfonnation on available housing is only targeted at specific renter groups, yet street youth are notone of those target groups.Discrimination against street youth exists on two levels- systemic and personal. Systemicdiscrimination is the absence of any individual or group who advocates on the behalf of youth.The lack of advocacy for youth was cited by many of the interviewees as a major issue affectingyouth and their ability to access housing. Lacking both the ability to organize themselves and anoutside advocate, youth form a voiceless and forgotten group in society. In the opinion of oneservice provider, if there is no one to fight on their behalf and have their voices heard, no one willever recognize them and ‘make a place for’ their needs. Further, the current political system doesnot allow youth to become a heard group. Their lack of power is strengthened by their inability tovote. Lacking political clout, youth are an easy group for politicians to not listen to oracknowledge.Discrimination against the person was a major issue noted by many service providers. It is a keyreason explaining why youth are unable to secure quality housing. Landlords are the primaryindividuals who discriminate against street youth. Youth are discriminated against for reasons ofage, physical appearance, race, and being an Income Assistance recipient. The majority oflandlords possess a poor attitude toward youth and among many there is the perception that youthare bad tenants. Landlords commonly formulate wrong assumptions about street youth basedHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 91solely on their appearance. Lastly, it is common among landlords to discriminate against singleparents, as landlords are not receptive to renting to individuals with children. The more a person isperceived as special needs (e.g. Native, female, handicapped), the more difficult it is for thatindividual to obtain housing.c The State-Provided Care SystemProblems associated with the current system of care include the form of service delivery and thequantity of residential services. To a degree, the form of service delivery is affected by thequantity of available facilities. The form of service delivery includes not only the way in whichservices are provided, but also the mindset of the care system regarding youth and their rights.The Lack ofa Universal DefinitionThe current care system is not organized in a manner to deal effectively with the needs of youth.To begin with, there is no universal definition of youth. The definition of youth varies from agencyto agency, from province to province, and from one piece of legislation to another. The lack of aconsistent definition creates problems when discussing and planning services for youth. If theservice providers developing the services and programs do not have a common definition of ayouth, the services and programs created will not adequately address the needs of the youth, asyouth from different backgrounds, street lifestyles, and ages all have very different needs.Form andMethod ofState Care and ServicesThe existing types of care facilities are not designed nor operated in a manner which recognizes themany struggles street youth have faced. The majority of state care facilities have high expectationsfor conformity. Coming from a street environment in which they have had complete control overHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Sfreet Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 92their daily activities, it is difficult for street youth to conform to the rules and regulations in statefacilities and often experience a feeling of loss of control. A street youth’s non-conformity to statecare rules is not always a conscious effort; many times it is an unconscious reaction ingrainedfrom a life on the street.A problem cited by one interviewee was that often the personality of the social worker affects theoutcome of what happens to the youth. The scenario was created such that if a social worker doesnot want to apprehend a youth because it was stated by the parents that a problem does not exist athome, when the youth approaches the financial aid worker to receive Income Assistance, it iscommon among financial aid workers to also refuse the youth’s request. It was the opinion of theinterviewee that when the youth is asked by the financial aid worker why the youth was notapprehended, and the response was that the social worker wanted the youth to return to the familyhome, but the youth refused this option, in the eyes of the financial aid worker the youth isbehaving rebelliously. It was believed that the fate of a youth who is not apprehended, not able toreceive Income Assistance, and does not want to return home, will be life on the street. It wasstated that the attitudes of front-line workers must change to become more believing of youth. Asstated by many interviewees, if a youth’s home environment was tolerable, the youth would not beseeking social assistance or refuge on the street. While the frequency of this scenario occurring isunknown to this author, the potential for it to occur does exist.The method of program funding was stated by one interviewee as a system problem. Programs aredeveloped to help deeply entrenched street youth, and the continued funding for these programs isbased upon the success rate of placing these youth into the community. However, when workingwith deeply entrenched street youth the success rate is generally lower because the process takesHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Sfreet Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 93longer to help these youth. Since programs with low success rates do not receive the same amountof funding as highly successful programs, programs designed for street youth do not always acceptthe youth most in need of their services.The manner in which service-providing agencies behave indirectly creates difficulties for youth.One interviewee stated that there exists territorialism of services; each service agency is protectiveof their own service area. lii addition, it was noted that there is a lack of communication andcooperation between Ministries; this observation can be extended to apply to non-govermnentservice agencies as well. The current system also lacks a single body which oversees all programs.Taken together, these four factors cause agencies to work within their own bubble - only vaguelyaware of what others are doing. As a result, duplication of services occur and this only serves tomake inefficient use of available funding. The intense competition for the all important, yetlimited, financial support, and the resulting fragmentation of youth services has also been noted byother researchers studying the issue of street youth (Rothman, 1991; Treanor, 1988). Lastly, itwas expressed by many interviewees that a need exists for a coordination of service providers sothat everyone involved (i.e. all levels of government, non-government organizations, private sector)can work toward the same end.The present method of service delivery is inappropriate for street youth. It has been labeled by oneservice provider as ‘destination servicing’. Currently, youth are required to go to the servicelocation in order to access the service(s). However, many youth fear the social system and police,and therefore do not go to these locations to access the needed supports. It was stated that achange must occur in our present manner of providing services in order to target those street youthHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 94who do not go to the service location(s) for support. It was expressed that more outreach servicesare required to help improve the flow of information to street youth.Lastly, within the realm of a quality care system and method of service delivery, a major issueaffecting youth and their ability to access housing and support services is the availability ofinformation. It was stated that the system does not market itself to youth. The Ministry does notprovide any document which explicitly outlines the services available and the guidelines/regulationsassociated with each service. In addition, largely due to their lack of power and the fact theybecome a forgotten part of society, youth are not educated about their rights. It was expressed bymany interviewees that youth are both not informed and misinfonned as to what they are entitledto.However, not all interviewees were of the same opinion. Some service providers believe that themajority of youth are made aware of programs and services by other street friends and outreachworkers. It was stated that street youth are resourceful individuals and when things get bad, theyare able to find the necessary information and appropriate resources.The inappropriateness of foster and group homes was mentioned by a few service providers. Oneinterviewee strongly expressed the opinion that these types of care facilities are unacceptable waysfor youth to live. Youth are provided with no freedom and are treated as if they are youngcriminals. It was a major concern expressed by a few interviewees that when discussing carefacilities for youth, the question of empowerment regarding who is being served needs to be asked.It was noted that it is often the case in state care facilities that youth are powerless; it is an adultrun system that receives no input from youth - the group they are serving.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 95Inadequate Supply ofFacilitiesRegarding the quantity of various types of state-provided residences, it was noted by a fewinterviewees that there was an insufficient number of group homes, foster homes and semi-independent living situations. The lack of facilities causes a continuity of movement- a beginning,middle and end of treatment and programs available to youth- to not exist.Also attributed to the inadequate number of facilities was the fact that the current system lacks adifferentiation of services. As a result, there are insufficient residential care choices in which toplace youth and the services provided are generalized. Service providers are not afforded theability to match service staff and type of residence to the individual needs of the youth.The Inappropriateness ofMainstream Society’s Social SystemCommonly stated by many of the interviewees was the inappropriateness of our social system forstreet youth and the general lack of support services. The present education system is not suitableto serve the needs of street youth since it does not consider the type of lifestyle led by these youth(e.g. the difficulty for street youth to adhere to strict time schedules). Second, existing drug andalcohol programs are not appropriate for street youth. Historically these programs have beendeveloped to serve an adult clientele however, the lifestyles and needs of adults are extremelydifferent from those of street youth. Third, there is a lack of housing and support workers -individuals whose responsibility would be to help youth through the housing-search process andassist them in maintaining their housing. The inadequacy of support workers was demonstrated bythe fact that in the Greater Vancouver Region, there are only two mental health workers providingcounselling services to the Region’s street youth.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 96ii. The Level ofSocial DevelopmentThe level of social development of street youth creates great difficulties for them in securing andmaintaining housing. It was often stated during the interviews that even if a youth did haveadequate financial resources and was initially able to secure housing, the youth would not be ableto maintain it. Street youth lack the necessary productive life skills and common sense needed tomanage money and be a good tenant. Having left home at an early age for a life on the street, theseyouth have not had the opportunity for an adult figure to teach them the necessary skills (e.g.managing/budgeting money, opening a bank account, preparing a shopping list, responsibilities ofa good tenant, being assertive, laundry, general house cleaning). It is common among street youthto have been evicted from a number of apartments before finally settling into one. Theirimmaturity reveals itself in their first few times of securing housing. Soon after a youth moves intoa new accommodation they hold a party which is loud and disruptive, or are quickly takenadvantage of by their street friends who are in need of shelter. In either situation, after a shortperiod of time the youth is evicted. Presently, programs or courses in which street youth couldattend to learn the necessary skills do not exist.4.3 The Street Youth’s PerspectiveFrom the interviews conducted with the youth it became clear that the issue of housing was muchlarger than simply the lack, or quality, of available housing. It expanded to include the mindset ofthe current care system and the manner in which society as a whole treats youth.The youth were asked about the types of accommodation they sought, the quality of the housingthey were able to secure, difficulties they encountered in attempting to secure housing, andimprovements to the current system which would help them secure safe, affordable, and qualityHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 97housing. The results of the interviews have been divided into two parts. The first part describeshow youth live - the physical and social aspects of the accommodations they have lived in. Thesecond part is comprised of the problems street youth experience in both the market housingenvironment and the state care system.a How Youth LiveThe types of accommodation the youth have lived in range from squats, sharing a house, livingwith a boyfriend, hotels, to Ministry-provided care (i.e. group and foster homes). The majority oftime the youth lived with other people, some of whom they knew and others they did not.Not including Ministry-provided care, the longest time any street youth had resided in one locationwas one year. Common among three individuals was the fact that the minimum amount of timespent in any one place was between one and two weeks. For the youth who lived in single-roomoccupancy hotels, they lived there on a month to month basis. Their length of stay was dependentupon their ability to pay the next months rent.Personal safety was an issue mentioned by some of the female youth. They stated that thereexisted a constant threat of drugs being forced upon them. In addition, there was always the fearthat other people living in the house, in their drugged and incoherent state, might unconsciouslyhurt one of these individuals.Through talldng to the youth, the deplorable quality of the hotels in the Downtown Eastside areabecame real. The size of the rooms were described as extremely small with only enough room for abed and a dresser. Many of the rooms lacked cooking facilities - even a hot plate, the bareHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 98minimum, was absent from the majority of rooms. The individual units were without private bathsand tenants were required to share a common bathroom. In addition, many hotels lacked laundryfacilities. For this reason, some ofthe youth stated that they tried to stay as clean as possible.The infestation of the rooms with cockroaches, silverfish and other insects was noted by all theyouth. One youth stated that the problem was so bad that when he went to bed at night, he wouldpull his bed out from beside the wall because if he did not, the cockroaches would climb up thewall and onto his bed sheets. A youth originally from Montreal stated that he chose to sleep on thestreet since it was cleaner and safer than any hotel room. Some of the youth stated that the rooms‘smelled like death’. The youth were able to tell through the smell of a room that someone had diedfrom a drug overdose. One youth reported that in his hotel an older man had died, but his bodywas not discovered until a week after his death when the smell began to leave his room.When asked about the average rent of the hotel rooms, it was stated that the rent ranged from $325to $345 per month.b. The Housing EnvironmentA major shortcoming youth saw in the current housing environment was the lack of subsidizedhousing specifically for youth. The youth recognized the fact that they have not been a prioritygroup selected to receive subsidized housing. A problem inherent in the existing subsidizedhousing program is that for a youth to be an eligible tenant, the youth must be a parent and cannotbe in care. However, the waiting lists are long and it is a minimum two year wait before a unitbecomes available. Therefore, while waiting for a subsidized unit and not able to receive MinistryHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 99support, either financial assistance or state-provided housing, the question was asked ‘What does asingle-parent youth do in the meantime?’The behaviour of landlords toward youth was mentioned by many of the youth as a significantproblem. Specifically, the discriminatory behaviour of landlords towards youth was frequentlystated. While discrimination takes all forms (e.g. age, recipients of Income Assistance, physicalappearance), racism was cited as the greatest factor in preventing many youth from renting hotelsor apartments. The problem was expressed as being most acute among youth of a Nativebackground. One Native stated that landlords often have a fixed idea of who a Native is - a personwho is dirty, smelly, and drunk. This preconceived notion generalized to represent all native youth,further compounds the difficulties experienced by Native youth.It was stated that even when landlords do rent to youth, they always assume the worst. They areextremely untrusting of youth and are constantly watching their actions. Landlords take fulladvantage of the youth’s vulnerable position. Cognizant that youth are in search of housing andunable to secure better quality accommodations in other areas, hotel landlords in the DowntownEastside area charge a rent which is equal to the maximum amount that the Income Assistanceshelter component provides to an individual.In addition to charging exorbitant rents, landlords charge guest fees. This fee, which rangesbetween $20 and $25, is charged every time a tenant has a visitor in their room past a certain hourin the evening (e.g. 8 p.m.). This fee not only limits a youth’s freedom, it also functions to preventyouth who want to reduce their rent payments from sharing their room.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 100The problem of hotel quality was often mentioned. It was noted by one youth, who currentlyresides in a hotel, that landlords are able to let the quality of the hotel decline because healthofficials only inspect the building once a year. In addition, landlords know they do not have toexert the effort to continually upgrade the building because they have a captive market.The State Care SystemA problem of great magnitude to the youth concerning the current child welfare system was themaimer in which youth are treated. In the present system, youth have no control over their life andare not treated with respect and dignity. They believe it is wrong for strangers to have completecontrol over their future. Further, recognizing the fact that many street youth come from abackground filled with abuse, the youth believe it is ignorant on the part of adults to assume thatyouth will go with just anyone who will provide them with a home.The youth stated that the manner in which they are placed into care facilities illustrates their lack ofcontrol. When a youth is first brought into care an assessment is carried out on the youth by asocial worker, yet the youth is unable to view their assessment. Even youth who have been in thecare system for a period of time are unable to view their own file. Their lack of control was alsonoted at the stage in the process following their assessment and prior to their placement into a carefacility. At this point, a negotiation process between the youth and the social worker, potentiallyoutlining what the youth will receive and can expect, does not exist. A problem cited regarding theassessment process was that assessments are based upon a one-time visit. It was a concernexpressed by a few youth that often a one-time incident can plague a youth’s future placement(s).It was stated by one individual that social workers are seldom able to put a specific incident in theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Sfreet Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 101past and allow the youth to move forward. On the whole, it was expressed that very littlecommunication occurs between a youth and their social worker.It was the strong opinion of some youth that they should not have to live with other families ingroup or foster homes. These settings do not provide a caring environment. Youth believe thatthere is no time provided in the present placement process for youth to establish a trustingrelationship with the new ‘home provider’. Regarding foster homes, youth stated that they aremade to feel like they are a burden on the family, and that they should be grateful to the family forproviding them with housing. While experiencing a feeling of not being wanted by the family,youth do not want to be with the family either. It was a strong feeling of some youth that in fostercare, the home is not their home, the family is not their family, and the community is not theircommunity. It was stated that group homes are made to sound like wonderful living environmentsby service providers, but this is hardly the case. These environments are structured by curfews andregulations and youth receive very little freedom and respect.A major problem for youth concerning the state care system is the negative stigma attached tobeing in care. Youth do not want to be regarded as recipients of a service. They do not want to bethought of as ‘just another number’ or ‘just another case file’. It was stated by one intervieweethat for youth who are choosing between the three options: living in an abusive and intolerablefamily environment, living in care, or living on the street, the majority would choose the street. Ahome on the street provides the youth with freedom, the ability to control their future, and respectwhich they receive from their street peers.Housing Sfreet Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 102The youth expressed feelings of frustration and anger concerning the Income Assistance Program.They stated that they are often treated in a demeaning manner. In addition, the very success orfailure in receiving Income Assistance depends completely upon the financial aid worker. Someyouth expressed the opinion that there should be an open consultation/negotiation process betweenthe financial aid worker and the youth, in which the youth’s eligibility for Income Assistance isdiscussed. One youth suggested that eligibility for Income Assistance should be based upon one’smaturity level rather than age.Age was also mentioned as a factor affecting a youth’s ability to access housing. It was stated thatfor youth 17 years and under it is almost impossible to secure safe and affordable housing. Thetwo key reasons are that these individuals have extreme difficulties in both receiving IncomeAssistance and obtaining high paying jobs.When asked how the current system could improve, the youth provided three recommendations.All three targeted the attitudes and mindset of the adult-developed system. The recommendationsstated were service providers must listen to youth, service providers must understand where youthare coming from, and service providers must not base assumptions solely upon a youth’sappearance or past actions.In securing safe housing, the youth stated there were endless hurdles they had to face. A greatamount of stamina was needed to keep fighting the battles, whether it was Income Assistance,employment, housing, school or daycare. To continue to move forward and survive each day,youth require a great amount of strength and persistency. However, some youth become tired ofdealing with the constant battle (e.g. the appeal process for Income Assistance) and becomeHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 103trapped in a street life. It was stated that the concept of spirit does not exist when living in a hotelenvironment. This makes it very difficult for a struggling youth to continue with their personalbattle to survive and succeed. The ambition and morale to move forward is quickly deteriorated ina hotel environment. For single people or single-parent youth attempting to survive on their own inan environment other than a hotel, the places they can afford are not safe for either them or theirchildren.4.4 Overview of the InterviewsThe two sets of interviews were extremely enlightening and provided much insight into the issue ofstreet youth and housing. This thesis began by asking three questions: are there problems inlegislation which create barriers to street youth accessing housing, is the supply of housing, bothstate-provided and market, inadequate, and are the forms of housing currently being providedinappropriate for youth? From the interviews undertaken, it was found that ‘yes’ was the answerto all three questions. However, the responses provided during the interviews made clear the factthat the barriers facing youth in their ability to access housing extend past the tangible barrierssuch as the quantity of housing or the form of service provision. It includes intangible social issuessuch as maturity, social development levels, and attitudes.The service providers brought to light the issue that youth lack the basic living skills necessary tolive on one’s own. Lacking these skills, youth are perceived as bad and irresponsible tenants bylandlords. However, street youth have never been afforded the opportunity to learn how to be agood tenant. For the majority of youth, street life began at an early age and they passed fromchildhood to adulthood without ever being taught these skills by a parent or guardian.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Sfreet Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 104For street youth and youth in care, while the issue of safe, secure and affordable housing isimportant, the issue of respect is paramount. Youth believe they are not treated like human beings;they feel as if the rights of a youth do not exist. In the eyes of the youth, the issue of respect is thebasis of many problems. If an individual does not receive respect, they will not give it in return.The youth also expressed the view that society has lost much of its ‘community quality’. Oftenwhen people no longer fit into mainstream society and society does not have time to care for them,these individuals are put somewhere else. If a person is too old, society puts them in a seniorcitizen home, if a person is handicapped, we institutionalize them, and if a person is young andcreates trouble, society places them in group homes or correctional facilities. The youthinterviewed concluded that street kids and kids in care are the throwaways of society. Thisstatement strongly demonstrates that youth are neither valued nor a priority in today’s adult-oriented society.Reflecting upon the interviews with the service providers, despite their varying levels of contactwith the youth, they all made reference to the need for the system to alter its form and method ofservice provision. The importance ofyouth empowerment was recognized by all.Upon completing the interviews with the youth, it became clear that the two groups of youthprovided two very different types of information. The interview with the Federation of B.C. Youthin Care Networks staff members provided better insight into the variety of factors affecting streetyouth in their struggle to find housing. Now leading productive mainstream lives, these individualswere able to reflect back upon their street lives and be critical of the system they were trapped in.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 4: Street Youth in Vancouver: A Study of Their Housing Environment 105The main focus of the youth interviewed at the DEYAS Detox Centre was on the here and now.Their responses centred upon the quality of housing and the problem of discrimination. For theseyouth, currently involved in street life and the struggle to find housing, it was difficult for them tosee out of their present situation and provide recommendations regarding the present system.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summa,y, Recommendations and Conclusion 106CHAPTERS: SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION5.1 SummaryThe current state care system is successful at trapping and creating street entrenched youth. Youthare fleeing from intolerable home situations to an environment where they want control over theirown life. While the Ministry of Social Services exists to provide care to underage persons who forwhatever reason are unable to live at home, the management forms of the care facilities providedare inappropriate for youth seeking control over their disrupted lives. It appears that the mindset ofthe state care system regarding youth is that youth are immature, irresponsible and rebellious.Their very age causes others to believe they lack the ability to be responsible for their future.Further, the fact that youth are choosing to leave their family home reinforces the views othershave regarding their irresponsible and rebellious nature.Based on these assumptions, youth in care are provided with almost no respect and no input intodetermining their future. This is clear in the fact that neither a consultation nor negotiation processoccurs between a youth and their social worker during the youth’s initial assessment, thedetermination of their future placement, and their eligibility assessment for Income Assistance. Inaddition, secrecy appears to fill the Ministry as demonstrated by the fact that youth are unable toview their initial assessment or case file. The lack of freedom and control in state care facilities isvisible in the many curfews and rules that structure how youth must behave in group homeenvironments.Not being respected, believed, or treated as a human being in Ministry-provided care, youth seekother alternatives. Their first option is market housing. However, most youth do not possess largefinancial resources and their sources of legal income are inadequate to obtain quality housing.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 107Although legal employment is one avenue to earn an income, for those youth who do have a job,typically they do not receive high enough paying wages to survive on their own. IncomeAssistance provides the second legal source of income for youth. However, amongst the youthinterviewed, there was a strong disfavour expressed regarding the Income Assistance applicationprocess. Commonly, they experience uncertainty as to their eligibility, are treated in a demeaningmanner, and dislike being referred to as ‘welfare recipients’.If a youth is able to acquire enough funds to secure housing, they are limited to the horrid hotelrooms in the downtown area of Vancouver. Further, the inadequacy of Income Assistance restrictsyouth to living in these rundown and insect infested accommodations.Even in receipt of Income Assistance, they are limited to the downtown area. In their attempts tosecure quality housing in other areas, they either face discrimination by landlords or do not havesufficient funds to afford the better quality housing.In the event that a youth is able to secure housing, in most instances the housing only lasts for ashort period of time. Lacking the basic living skills, youth behave in inappropriate ways and arequickly evicted from their new place of residence.Exhausting all options, youth turn to the street. On the street, youth are treated with respect bytheir peers, find companionship with fellow street youth, are taught street survival by otherexperienced youth, and experience a feeling of control. However, the street carries with it manyevils - the lure of drugs and alcohol is ever present; the ability to make quick money is possiblethrough prostitution and drug trafficking; and violence abounds on the street as youth are theHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 108targets of middle-class youth gangs or others who desire their possessions. The initial glamour ofthe street soon fades and the battle to survive and return to a mainstream lifestyle is all uphill.5.2 RecommendationsThe results of the interviews clearly reveal that two interrelated problem areas exist in the broadissue of street youth and housing. These areas are 1. the state care system - both its form andmanner of service provision, and 2. accessibility to market housing - social, economic and politicalfactors which affect a youth’s ability to secure housing. An issue common to both problem areas,and perpetuating the problems in each, is the lack of value society places in youth.lii providing recommendations to address the problem areas affecting street youth in Vancouver, itmust be remembered that street youth are only one segment of the larger homeless population. Asdiscussed in Chapter 2, homelessness is the result of the merging of various social, economic,political and physical factors in various spatial and temporal scales. If the causes of homelessnesscan be addressed and rectified, then the need for reactive measures to provide for those individualsalready on the street can be reduced. Specific to street youth, if policies can be created whichtarget the factors which influence the breakdown of the traditional family structure or reduce thestresses faced by many non-traditional families (i.e. single-parent families), home environmentsmay no longer be filled with physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse, or parental alcohol/drugabuse, and many youth may no longer feel compelled to take flight to the street. However, it mustbe recognized that policy recommendations which address the broader issue of homelessness andtarget the precipitants of homelessness (e.g. unemployment, poverty, affordable housing, healthcare) create the potential for available government funding directed at street youth to be reduced.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 109Despite the fact that policies which address the causes of homelessness are more beneficial andcost-effective in the long-term than policies which speak to the needs of the existing homelesspopulation, measures must be taken to assist those individuals already in a homeless state. Therecommendations provided in this thesis focus on addressing the problems faced by youth currentlystruggling on Vancouver’s streets.a. The State Care SystemThe current state care system is inappropriate for street youth. Both the types and structures ofhousing facilities, and the manner of service provision do not recognize the backgrounds, needs andrights of street youth and youth in general. In addition, as mentioned by many service providersduring the interviews, the state care system does not provide an adequate supply of housingfacilities and support counsellors. Research undertaken by other academics has found that youthunder the care of the child welfare system have not been adequately prepared for independent livingnor given the essential resources to support themselves (Rothman, 1991; Raychaba, 1988, cited inBass, 1992).Traditional foster homes are not suitable for street youth. These young people have already takenflight from a family environment and do not want to be placed back into a situation which involves‘parental authority’. As expressed in the interviews with youth, foster homes are not the youth’shome and a foster family can never replace their own family. In research examining theexperiences of youth after leaving foster care, it has been found that many youth struggle with poorhealth, poor education, housing difficulties, substance abuse, and illegal activities (Barth, 1990).Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 110Group homes are also an inappropriate form of housing for street youth. Younger youth (i.e. 12-16 year olds), the youth most often housed in group homes, are at a stage in their life where theyare testing the limits of authority. A lack of nurturing characterizes the general body of grouphomes. The institutional structure of group homes cause them to be managed through rules andregulations and thus lack any feelings of warmth or compassion. As made clear through theinterviews, in these institutional settings youth are neither treated with respect nor provided withpersonal freedom.While independent living is a form of housing that is most appropriate for the majority of streetyouth and is what most youth strive to obtain, there are two related shortcomings in the presentsystem regarding this type of housing. First, youth lack the necessary living skills to succeed inthis type of living situation. Second, recognizing the youths lack of living skills, the present systemcontinues to neither provide enough support counsellors to assist youth in these environments, noroffer courses or programs to teach youth basic life skills.Significant changes need to occur in the current state care system so that it may better provide forthe needs of youth. First and foremost, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way youth arevalued, treated and regarded by service providers. Further, this shift must extend to all ofmainstream society. There needs to be a shift away from rigidity and adult-controlled decisionmaking to one of community-guided growth and youth empowerment. Community-guided growthmust be defined as service providers working alongside youth providing guidance so that youth canbecome their own decision-makers. To achieve genuine youth empowerment, it is critical thatservice providers listen to and hear the ideas, dreams, concerns and feelings expressed by theyouth.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 111The potential exists for Bill 46 to create effective change both within the Ministry of SocialServices and with front-line service providers, but this change rests upon the will of all Ministryand front-line staff It is recommended that the Youth Advocate, created through Bill 45, activelywork with service providers to ensure change. Further, it is recommended that the role of theAdvocate extend to include educating landlords, and individuals who either fund or organizehousing to recognize the needs of street youth as one of the many groups requiring housing.Crucial to bringing about a successful paradigm shift is that both parties treat one another withequal respect. However, youth will never receive the respect they are desiring until they begin toact responsibly, and earn the respect they are longing for. Yet behaving in immature and rebelliousways is all part of being a youth. Adolescence is characterized as a time of feeling indestructible,of learning and growing through trial and error, and of testing the limits of adult/authority figures.In particular, it is part of the nature of a street youth to constantly test the sincerity of those whoare trying to help them. As a result of feeling abandoned by those who care for them (e.g. parents),and possessing low self-esteem and self-worth, street youth are uncertain as to how genuine serviceproviders are in the care they are offering. As much as they want someone to care for them, theybelieve that others truly do not care - the help being offered is only part of the service provider’sjob. For this reason, street youth continue to rebel in order to test the ‘level of genuinity’ in thehelp being offered.A vicious circle appears to exist- as youth continue to act irresponsibly they continue to not berespected by service providers and in turn, not being respected, youth continue to behave inrebellious ways. Recognizing the nature of adolescence and the psychological battles faced bystreet youth, the system must become more accommodating of a youth’s playing out ofHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summa,y, Recommendations and Conclusion 112rebelliousness. Presently, the scales of respect are tipped such that youth are given very little or norespect at all. If service providers can take the first step and provide youth with respect, then youthmay help to balance the scale by giving in return respect to service providers. However, from thispoint onward, youth must earn additional respect; if achieved, the potential exists for youth to beempowered to develop greater responsibility and independence.It was noted within both the literature review and the interviews that the number of younger agedstreet youth is increasing. Recognizing that existing policies and/or programs are not successfullyaddressing the needs of children and youth in the family home, and thus preventing the flight ofyoung people to the street, reactive steps are required to meet the needs of youth just arriving onthe street. For this reason, it is recommended that the Ministry of Social Services considerproviding a second safe house for youth aged 12 to 15 years. By providing a facility for youngeryouth, the facility would behave as a form of early intervention potentially decreasing the numberof youth becoming entrenched in street life. In turn, the cost of service provision would bedecreased as hypothetically fewer youth would be requiring the various support services (e.g.mental health counselling, detox programs). In addition, these youth are at a different social andmental development level than older youth and thus possess different service needs. Lastly,creating a target group based on age rather than ethnicity forces people of all backgrounds to liveand work together - a quality vital to living in today’s cultural mosaic.Fourth, it is recommended that a continuum of housing be developed. A continuum would allowfor a differentiation of services, as well as a beginning, middle and end of programs and treatmentto be available to youth. As not all street youth of the same age exhibit similar levels of socialdevelopment or require similar support services, a housing continuum would provide youth withHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 113appropriate and individualized care. In the end, a higher success rate of street youth making thetransition from street life to mainstream society would be achieved.A housing continuum was originally developed in March 1990, cooperatively between serviceproviders, a municipal planner, and male street youth from Boys Town. This thesis attempts tobuild upon and further develop the original continuum utilizing the information gathered from theservice provider interviews.A Modelfor a Continuum ofHousingThe proposed housing continuum is based upon a resident’s level of independence. It consists offive stages which include a Safe House, Supportive Living-Level 1, Supportive Living-Level 2,Semi-Independent Living, and Independent Living. As individuals progress through the continuum,their level of independence would increase - moving from dependent living environments, wherethey would receive high levels of support services, to independent situations, where they wouldreceive very little or no support services.Stage I - Safe houseThe safe house forms the entry point into the continuum and marks the youth’s initial step toextricate themself from a street life. The intent of the safe house is to provide a stress-free andnon-pressured environment where youth learn of the various options available to them and areprovided the opportunity to make informed decisions. The initial decision to arrive at the safehouse to receive shelter and support is made by the youth.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 114The safe house would be a short-stay facility and 7 calendar days would constitute the maximumlength of stay. The first 72 hours at the safe house would constitute a ‘grace period’, after whichtime the youth’s parents or legal guardian would be contacted.The focus ofthe facility would centre on crisis intervention and youth would receive a high level ofsupport. To achieve this desired level of support the facility should remain small, and it isencouraged that the maximum number of beds in any safe house not exceed six. By keeping thestaff to youth ratio low (e.g. 1:2 ratio), the opportunity exists to develop trusting staff’youthrelationships. Staff would work one-on-one with the youth to establish goals and objectives toenable the youth to leave the street. Support services would be available to youth and wouldinclude drug and alcohol detox, mental health counselling, health counselling, and peer support. Inaddition, youth would be provided with all their meals while at the facility. By alleviating theenvironmental stresses (i.e. need for food, shelter, personal hygiene) from a youth’s life, the youthwould be provided the opportunity to focus on their goal(s).The living environment would be based upon negotiable issues. The absence of rules andregulations in the safe house would create a more productive environment for the youth.The location of the safe house should be removed from the downtown core or areas characterizedby street life, yet also be accessible to the youth.A number of safe houses should be located throughout an urban area. Each safe house shouldfocus on serving a different sub-group of street youth. It is recommended that the focus of the safehouse be based upon age (e.g. youth aged 12-15 years, 16-18 years). This breakdown recognizesHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 115that younger youth, not as experienced as the older youth, have different needs and require differentservices. By not focusing the safe house on a specific culture, it forces youth to be open to andaccepting of all cultures.Stage 2 - Supportive Living-Level 1In Supportive Living-Level 1 a commitment has been made by the youth to leave the street andenergy is now targeted toward achieving personal goals. At this stage, it is recognized that familyreunification is not possible or desired by the youth.The length of stay at a supportive living-level 1 facility would be dependent upon the youth’s needfor the various support services offered. However, it is suggested that the minimum length of staybe three months so that the youth is able to establish a sense of stability.In this environment, recognizing the fact that youth still have strong dependencies upon the varioussupport services, youth would have access to support staff. Further, the staff to youth ratio wouldremain low (e.g. 1:3 ratio). To ensure youth receive a high level of support, it is recommended thatthe maximum number of beds not exceed four. In addition, by keeping the number of beds to four(or fewer), youth would be reintegrated back into living in a ‘family-type’ environment.The emphasis of the services provided would be upon the psychological and physical self - themind and body. Services provided would include drug and alcohol counselling, mental healthcounselling, health counselling (e.g. HIV+, AIDS victims), and peer support. The services wouldbe available in both individual and group settings. Staff would work cooperatively with the youthHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 116to expand upon the youth’s personal goals previously established during their stay at the safehouse, and develop new goals relating to their psychological and physical development.The living environment would be structured by negotiable issues. Residing in every house on a 24-hour basis would be a ‘house mother’ or ‘father’. This individual would not play a parent role, butrather would behave in a big brother/sister capacity providing support, guidance and advice to theyouth.Supportive living homes should be located in residential areas. Situated away from the streetenvironment, youth would face less distractions during their path to mainstream life.Although not all youth are the same, supportive living homes should be focused toward servingyouth of the same age group, social development level, and primary support service need (i.e.alcohol counselling). Recognizing this criteria, a variety of supportive living environments wouldbe required.Stage 3 - Supportive Living-Level 2In Supportive Living-Level 2 the emphasis turns outward and social-interaction/self developmentbecomes the focus. Although the youth have primarily achieved their psychological/physicalrehabilitative goals (i.e. overcome drug addictions), minimal support in these areas is still requiredand would be provided.Similar to Level 1, the length of time a youth would remain at a Level 2 home is dependent uponthe youth’s need for the various support services provided.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 117The emphasis of the services provided are on life skills development, education programs,employment programs, family counselling, community resources, and peer training for the moreadvanced youth. The focus of this stage is upon developing skills that are essential for maintainingself-sufficiency - a quality necessary to succeed at independent living. Once again, support staffwould work with the youth to establish new goals relating to the focus of this stage of development.During their time in Stage 3, youth would be expected to enroll in an academic or vocationaleducation program. Further, all youth would be encouraged to participate in family counselling topromote improved youth-parent communication even if the desired goal is not family reunification,In developing life skills, youth would attend weekly group meetings where topics such as nutrition,food preparation, health care, sexuality, apartment hunting, demands and responsibilities of being atenant, budgeting, opening a bank account, income tax preparation, and employment skills wouldbe covered.While living in their supervised homes, the youth would have the opportunity to practice some ofthe skills they are learning. They would have the ability to prepare monthly budgets for food, rent,and clothing, the opportunity to plan and cook nutritious meals, and to clean house.The location of Level 2 facilities should be in residential neighbourhoods. Similar to Level 1, ahouse mother or father would live permanently with the youth, but function in a big brother/sisterrole providing support, guidance and advice to the youth, and the environment would be structuredby negotiable issues. Although these youth are moving toward independence, the ideal number ofyouth per house would be 3 to 4 as the youth still require peer support and companionship.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 118Supportive living - level 2 homes should be designed to have one primary focus with all othersupport services being secondary. By individualizing the services of each home, the individualneeds of the youth would be better addressed and served.Stage 4- SemiJndependent LivingSemi-Independent Living is a type of housing for youth who have acquired the basic life skills andare serious about the education or employment program they are involved in. However, theseyouth still require some additional life skills training and/or rehabilitative counselling (e.g. drugaddiction counselling, mental health counselling) and are not quite ready to take the step toindependent living.The length of time a youth would remain in semi-independent living would depend upon theircertainty as to when they would be able to live independently. It may range anywhere from threemonths to one year. Time spent in semi-independent living would help a youth develop confidencein their ability to live without many supports, and be responsible for their own decisions andactions.The forms of housing could range from a youth living in a self-contained suite in a single-familyhouse, to youth living in a small walk-up style apartment with an apartment manager. In the firstsituation, the youth would live their life independently, but an adult figure would be nearby ifguidance or support is needed. In the latter example, youth would either have their own apartmentunit or share a unit with 1 to 3 other housemates. The tenant composition of the walk-upapartments should include both ‘all youth apartments’ and ‘mixed apartments’ (e.g. seniors,families, youth). It is important to begin to reintegrate youth into mainstream society and createHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 119housing environments with a variety of tenant types. In apartment living, youth would be able tolearn the appropriate behaviour when living with housemates and amongst neighbours.Cooperative forms of housing are possible within this stage of the continuum. In cooperative youthhousing, youth would be able to effectively utilize peer support and deal with their problemstogether.The size of the apartment-type housing should be no larger than 12-unit buildings. Although theseyouth are almost at the end of the continuum, it is important to keep the housing small so that theseyouth can redevelop a sense of community. In addition, it would not lend itself to the problemsassociated with housing one type of tenant group.It is recommended that in both housing environments the ‘adult figure’ and the ‘apartmentmanager’ be an ex-street youth. This individual could provide peer support to the youth whenneeded, while at the same time behave as a figure of authority familiarizing youth to the landlordsthey will eventually face in the real world. In all of the various living situations, it is recommendedthat the youth and the adult figure participate in weekly ‘get-togethers’ to discuss either personal orhousing problems, or the general happenings of the week. In addition, it is encouraged that familycounselling continue as a support service for all youth.Stage 5 - Independent LivingIndependent living is the final stage in the continuum of housing. At this end stage, a youth wouldpossess all the necessary life skills to successfully live independently, is confident in themself andis involved in an education program, full-time employment or a combination of the two.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summaiy, Recommendations and Conclusion 120Since many youth require long-term support to overcome serious problems, aftercare services are acritical component of the process. Upon leaving semi-independent living, a youth should beencouraged to maintain ties to various counselling services, even if it is on a bi-weekly or monthlybasis.Strategies and Processesfor Developing a Continuum ofHousingTo create a successful continuum, it is crucial that certain strategies and processes be employed.Similar strategies and processes to those outlined below have been identified by researchersRothman (1991) and Treanor (1988) in research examining the provision of services to streetyouth.First, youth empowerment must be the foundation of all housing resources. Youth must beinvolved in the planning, organization, implementation, and programming of all resources. Youthmust be the primary planners and designers, with involvement from the experts when and wherenecessary. Youth often have a keen understanding of their needs - needs which are often invisibleto adults. Tn addition, through youth involvement in resource planning, cultural openness will beachieved in all housing environments. The success of grass roots planning by and for street youthis demonstrated by Vancouver’s existing safe house.Youth empowerment must also occur in the process of determining the youth’s goals, objectives,and overall pathway back to mainstream life. While it is crucial that service providers validate thedreams and aspirations of a youth, they must without being authoritative, bring the ‘grand ideas’ ofthe youth down to a realistic vision. Service providers must help youth to recognize andunderstand the necessary steps needed to be taken between moving from the present to achievingHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summaiy, Recommendations and Conclusion 121their dream. Youth need to be enlightened about how the real world operates, and be givenresponsibility for determining their future. If youth are not empowered to make their owndecisions, their role as a victim will be perpetuated.Second, it is paramount to establish a balance in staff and structure. Support staff must beextremely understanding and patient with the youth. They must possess both the necessarycounselling and support skills that street youth require and have experience with street life. Theresources must be able to provide for the youth’s needs yet not be overly structured, functioning toalienate the youth. Staff must establish the fine line between teaching youth and being intrusive orjudgmental.Third, all housing resources must be community based. It is important to liaise with the localneighbourhood association to ensure community support and acceptance.Fourth, in a return to community support, recognizing the importance of peer support andcounselling, and cognizant of the decreasing trend in government financial assistance to healthcare, ‘ex-street youth’ must be trained to provide peer counselling in the more supportive livingenvironments and trained as apartment managers for the more independent housing arrangements.The potential exists for these youth to provide better insight to those youth struggling to leave thestreet environment. It has been stated by some service providers that youth currently on the streetrelate better to youth who were once in their situation.Central to a successful housing continuum is a diversity in programs and levels of support. Ateach stage in the continuum a range of services and support levels are necessary. No singleHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summaiy, Recommendations and Conclusion 122package of services specifically suits each stage in the continuum nor addresses the needs of allyouth. The type of services required varies more with the individual than where the individual isalong the continuum of movement away from street life. The services provided must be flexible sothat they can both accommodate the variety of youth who require the services, and adjust to futurechanges in clientele.As youth progress toward the end of the continuum, housing environments must begin to include amix of tenant groups. Housing youth together must be the first stage in housing and not an end initself. Variety leads to healthy environments.b. Benefits and Complexities ofState Care ChangeFor the state care system to be truly effective and provide for the needs of youth, two changes mustoccur concurrently. There must be both the development of a housing continuum and a sincerechange in attitude and behaviour among service providers regarding youth. The achievement of ahousing continuum, and thus a differentiation of services, would enable the state care system toprovide appropriate services to youth of all ages. Presently, older youth seeking greater freedomand independence are not housed within state-provided facilities. A continuum would be able toaccommodate these youth and provide them with the support services they require. Further,fundamental to a successful continuum is a change in attitude. No matter how many changes oradditions are made to create a continuum, if youth are not treated with respect they will continue torefuse state-provided care and live a life on the street.In improving the quality of state-provided housing, the potential is being created that youth who donot truly require the services will be attracted to the facilities provided. A dilemma exists inHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summa,y, Recommendations and Conclusion 123providing housing which attracts youth whose best interest is to leave home, or who have beenthrown out, and those youth whose best interest is to remain at home. State-provided housing cannot come to be viewed as ‘an easy way out’ for those youth who are unable to resolve minordisputes (e.g. smoking in the house, use of the family car) with their parents. Despite whateverlevel state-provided care may achieve, there is no substitute for parental teaching.While the housing continuum model is intended to better serve the needs of street youth who haveno other alternative than to live on the street, consideration needs to be given to the effect improvedhousing services may have on curb-kids or youth who seek street life as a form of adventure. Itcould be argued that improved housing will not attract more ‘adventure-seekers’ for the reason thatliving in state-provided facilities would not result in the excitement they are searching for. On theother hand, it could function to attract more curb-kids and ‘ins and outs’. However, for theseyouth, the services provided within the continuum of housing are very likely to be the types ofservices they are in need of. If the home environment is intolerable enough that a youth feels theymust flee to the street, then a facility such as a safe house would help to eliminate the possibility ofthe youth becoming entrenched in street life. Therefore, service providers and youth, whendesigning housing facilities and support services for street youth, must be cognizant of theimportance of establishing a balance between developing appropriate services which serve youthdeserving of the housing and support, and services which do not attract youth who are looking foran easy answer to their problems.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summaiy, Recommendations and Conclusion 124c. Factors Affecting a Youth’s Abiliiv to Access Market HousingConsidering the housing environment as it currently exists, recommendations have been developedto address the problem areas affecting youth in their struggle to secure housing.The discretionary nature of Income Assistance policy creates confusion and uncertainty amongyouth who are applying for this support. It is recommended that clear guidelines for eligibility beestablished. These guidelines must be based upon factual criteria rather than judgmental criteria.Although not all youth of the same age exhibit similar levels of social development, it is suggestedthat a minimum age be established for eligibility as age is a clearly defined criteria. One youthstated that eligibility should be based upon an individual’s maturity level. However, this criteriawould only perpetuate the problem since maturity is also a discretionary measure, and thedetermination of one’s maturity level would be based upon another’s assessment.A major barrier to youth accessing market housing is discrimination by landlords. However, whenlandlords refuse housing to an individual on the basis of age, landlords are often justified in theirdecision. In the past, many youth have behaved in immature ways, thus creating the stereotypethat all young people are irresponsible tenants. However, until this stereotype is altered, landlordswill continue to protect their investments against damage.Earlier in 1994 Bill 50, the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act, was implemented. The intent ofthe Act is to alleviate the problem of discrimination based on age. However, on its own, Bill 50will not be able to rectify the problem. Street youth will continue to lack the basic living skills tomaintain their own housing and act as responsible tenants. Presently, the system does not provideopportunities for youth to learn these skills. Therefore, additional changes are necessary and it isHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendalions and Conclusion 125recommended that the Ministry of Social Services develop programs or courses in which streetyouth could enroll in, and learn the essential skills to live independently. The possibility exists foryouth to receive a certificate upon successful completion of the program/course with which theycould present to potential landlords when searching for housing.Even if success is achieved in alleviating, or at least reducing, the problem of discrimination basedon age, other forms of discrimination will continue to exist. Landlords should no longer beafforded the opportunity to ‘just say no’ to youth, or to any other segment of society.Discrimination is a problem which has the potential to affect all members in society, not just youth.Therefore, to address the broad reaching nature of discrimination, it is recommended that theMinistry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services in partnership with the YMCA HousingRegistry develop a set of guidelines that landlords must abide by when determining an individual’sacceptance or non-acceptance as a tenant. If non-acceptance is the result, then a rationale must beprovided by the landlord to the tenant. If acceptance is the result, it is recommended that bothparties enter into a contract which outlines each parties rights, responsibilities, and expectations ofthe other party. However, for the contract to be effective, both parties must be aware of their ownand the other party’s rights and responsibilities. For this reason, it is recommended that theYMCA Housing Registry extend its services to that of facilitator, providing information on therights and responsibilities of all parties involved in a housing agreement.To address the issue of housing supply, it must be recognized that the provincial government isexperiencing financial constraint and can no longer be relied upon for increased funding.Therefore, funding for the development of street youth housing must come from other sources. Thepotential exists to use private developers as a source of funding (i.e. through the construction ofHousing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapterS: Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion 126housing). However, to successfully tap into this source, municipal governments must begin toactively utilize the tools provided to them in Bill 57, Municipal Affairs, Recreation and HousingStatutes Amendment Act. This Bill allows municipalities to facilitate the provision of housing forspecial needs groups through tools such as density bonusing in exchange for meeting specifiedconditions, comprehensive development zoning, housing agreements, the leasing of land at belowmarket values, establishing housing reserve funds, and borrowing powers. b addition,governments should examine the potential of providing incentives to developers, such as therelaxation of development cost charges or taxes, if housing for street youth is constructed.Lastly, it is recommended that a central planning agency be established. In its role of overseeingthe provision of services to youth, it would function to alleviate problems of inconsistency,coordination, temtorialism, and a lack of communication amongst service providers. Further, itwould prevent duplication of services therefore allowing funding to service agencies to be betterallocated and used. While the jurisdiction of this body should be the Lower Mainland, it shouldactively be involved in other provincial initiatives and knowledgeable of activities in otherprovinces. The composition of this agency should include both municipal and provincial levels ofgovernment and non-government organizations. While the problem of street youth exists at thelocal level, it is also a national problem, as street youth travel across the country from province toprovince. Lastly, street youth are also a provincial issue since the province is the primary fundingsource for housing and other social services. It is suggested that the IMSCC take on the role of acentral planning agency as this body already exists, and its membership includes individuals frommunicipal and provincial levels of government, and non-government service-providing agencies.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summaiy, Recommendalions and Conclusion 127This thesis has undertaken exploratory research into the broad issue of street youth and housing. Itis encouraged that further research be undertaken in the areas of housing for specific groups ofstreet youth (i.e. native youth, HIV+ and AIDS infected youth, teenage parents). In addition, whilethis thesis has discussed some of the problems associated with group and foster homes, it isrecommended that further study be undertaken into these two forms of housing.5.3 ConclusionThis thesis has examined a number of issues which explain why youth are living on Vancouver’sdowntown streets rather than in state-provided care facilities or market housing. The variousissues included the forms and method of service provision, the attitude of society toward youth, thelack of subsidized housing, and the quality and affordability of market housing. In addition, thisthesis has built upon the original housing continuum developed in 1990. The model continuumattempts to recognize the struggles faced by street youth, both in their previous familyenvironments and on the street, and provide a form of service provision which addresses theirindividual needs.To successfully get youth off the street it takes more than simply providing additional group orfoster homes, increasing the supply of subsidized housing, or changing legislation. Fundamental toalleviating the social problem of youth surviving on the street is a change in attitude. Mainstreamsociety must begin to value and respect youth. The introduction of Bill 46 recognizes youth as anentity and makes clear within the legislation the rights of a youth. However, Bill 45, the creation ofa Youth Advocate, is critical to the success of Bill 46 as part of the Advocate’s role is achieving atrue change among service providers. The Advocate must take responsibility to ensure that achange in attitude occurs along side a change in practice.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyChapter 5: Summaiy, Recommendations and Conclusion 128Enabling youth with the ability to access quality housing, whether that be state-provided or markethousing, which provides the essential needs of privacy, security, stability and access to supportservices, youth are afforded the opportunity to branch out and participate in programs that willenable them to leave street life. Further, youth will be able to redevelop feelings of self-esteem,self-worth and self-confidence.Housing is a costly endeavour, both in human and economic terms. For this reason, it is crucial toensure that housing creations are successful - they must be appropriate and well-planned. Yet nomatter how appropriate the housing may be, it must be recognized that housing is only one smallpart of the solution. Planners must recognize that in providing housing and the necessary supportservices, only the symptoms of the problem are being addressed and not the root cause. However,until such a time when problems are addressed at their source - the family home - planners muststrive to provide appropriate housing and support services to youth.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyReferences 129REFERENCESBarak, Gregg. (1991). Gimme Shelter: A Social History of Homelessness in ContemporaryAmerica. New York: Praeger.Barth, Richard P. (1990). ‘On Their Own: The Experiences of Youth After Foster Care.” Childand Adolescent Social Work, 7 (5), 4 19-440.Bass, Deborah et a!. (1992). Helping Vulnerable Youths: Runaway & Homeless Adolescents inthe United States. Washington: NASW Press.Baxter, Sheila. (1991). Under the Viaduct: Homeless in Beautiful B.C. Vancouver: New StarBooks.Bell, D., et a!. (1990, August). ‘Report of the Youth Emergency Shelter Program DevelopmentPanel.”Cambie Consulting Group Inc. (1992, November). ‘Evaluation of Connection Detox andResidential Youth Program: Appendix D.”City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Department. (1993, March 3). ‘Inter-OfficeCorrespondence - Senator Hotel.”City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Department. (1993, September 21). ‘AdministrativeReport - Acquisition of Sites for Street Youth Social Housing.”City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Department. (1994, February 3). ‘AclmiiiistrativeReport - Acquisition of 1818 East Pender Street.”City of Vancouver Housing and Properties Department. (1994, February 25). ‘AdministrativeReport - Leasing of City Property at 600 Vernon.”City of Vancouver Housing and Properties and Social Planning Departments (1993, January 29).“Administrative Report - Housing and Services for Street Involved Youth.”City of Vancouver Social Planning Department. (1990, March 21). ‘Summary Report - StreetYouth in Vancouver.”Community Panel, Family and Children Services Legislation Review in British Cokunbia. (1992,October). Making Changes: A Place to Start.Conners, Patricia. (1989). Runaways: Coping at home and on the street. New York: The RosenPublishing Group.CS/RESORS Consulting Ltd. (1989). ‘A Study of the Vancouver Reconnect Program andVancouver Street Youth.” Vancouver.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyReferences 130Downtown South Area Services Team. (1993, February 2). “Special Meeting Minutes.”Farestad, Karen J. (1990, Summer). “The Path to Change.” Protecting Children, 7-9, 12.Gram, Karen. (1993, August 23). “Plan to house street kids angers groups.” Vancouver Sun. B 1.Harris, Maxine. (1991). Sisters of the Shadow. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.Hauch, Christopher. (1985). ‘toping Strategies and Street Life: The Ethnography of Winnipeg’sSkid Row.” Winnipeg: Institute of Urban Studies University ofWinnipeg.Inter-Ministerial Street Children’s Committee. (1994, February 24). “Minutes.”Kariel, Pat. (1993). New Directions: Stepping out ofStreetLfe. Calgary: Greenways Press.Kines, Lindsay. (1993, January 29). ‘Plight of street kids: no safety net to save them.” VancouverSun. B1, B7.Kryder-Coe, Julee H., Lester M. Salamon, and Janice M. Molnar. (1991). Homeless Children andYouth: A New American Dilemma. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.Lau, Evelyn. (1989). Runaway: Diary ofa Street Kid. Vancouver: Harper Collins.Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. (1980). ‘Family and Child Service Act.” Victoria:Queen’s Printer.Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. (1994). ‘Bill 45 - Child, Youth and Family AdvocacyAct.” Victoria: Queen’s Printer.Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. (1994). ‘Bill 46 - Child, Family and CommunityService Act.” Victoria: Queen’s Printer.Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. (1994). ‘Bill 50- Residential Tenancy AmendmentAct.” Victoria: Queen’s Printer.Lieber, Harry. (1994, March). ‘The Granville Mall Youth Project: A Socio-Demographic Profileand an Assessment of Service Needs.” Vancouver.McCullagh, John, and Mary Greco. (1990, June). ‘Servicing Street Youth: A Feasibility Study.”Toronto: Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto.Oberlander, H.P., and Fallick, A.L. (1988). Homelessness and the Homeless: Responses andInnovations. Vancouver: Centre for Human Settlements, The University of BritishColumbia.Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services. (1994,June). ‘Homes B.C.: Building Affordable Housing- Strengthening Communities, 1994-95Call for Expressions of Interest.”Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyReferences 131Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing. (1993,March 23). “News Release - Provincial Housing Plan Helps People At-risk, Homeless.”Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and Ministry of Housing, Recreationand Consumer Services. (1993). “Housing Opportunities Through Local Planning.”Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Government Services, Ministry of Social Services andMinistry of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Housing. (1993, February 24). ‘NewsRelease - Street Kids Society Suspended - Safe House to Open.”Pynn, Larry and Robert Sarti. (1994, May 7). ‘Dhildren of Poverty: Special Report.” VancouverSun. B1-B12.Rothman, Jack. (1991). Runaway and Homeless Youth: Strengthening Services to Families andChildren. New York: Longman.Russell, Betty, G. (1991). Silent Sisters: A Study of Homeless Women. New York: HemispherePublishing Corp.Sarti, Robert. (1994, May 17). ‘Life on the street no treat for teens, study of 600 homeless kidsreveals.” Vancouver Sun. B1.Sarti, Robert. (1994, May 17). “Ex-bank ‘cool squat’ for youths on streets.” Vancouver Sun. B 16.Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. (1990, May). ‘Needs Assessment on Homeless Children andYouth.”Standing Committee of Council on Planning and Neighbourhoods. (1990, April 5). ‘Report toCouncil”Stavsky, Lois and I.E. Mozeson. (1990). The Place I Call Home: Voices and Faces ofHomelessTeens. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, Inc.Tonkin, Roger et al. (1994). ‘Adolescent Health Survey: Street Youth in Vancouver.” Vancouver:The McCreary Centre Society.Treanor, William. (1988, September). ‘&rriers to Developing Comprehensive and EffectiveYouth Services.” Washington, D.C.: Youth and America’s Future: The William T. GrantFoundation on Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship.Wagner, David. (1993). Checkerboard Square: Culture and Resistance in a HomelessCommunity. Bolder: Westview Press.Watson, Sophie and Helen Austerberry. (1986). Housing and Homelessness: A FeministPerspective. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Webber, Marlene. (1991). Street Kids: The Tragedy of Canada’s Runaways. Toronto: Universityof Toronto Press.Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyAppendix A: List ofPersons Interviewed 132APPENDIX A: LIST OF PERSONS INTERVIEWEDService Providers Telephone InterviewsJeff Brooks Gerry MignaultCity of Vancouver, Social Planning Dept. Ministry of Social ServicesSandy Cooke (District Supervisor) Penny ParryMinistry of Social Services City of Vancouver, Social Planning Dept.Adolescent Street UnitJeanine RatcliffeJill Davidson Ministry of Recreation, Housing andCity of Vancouver, Housing and Properties Dept. Consumer ServicesChristopher GrahamFamily Services of Greater VancouverKim HeibertStreet Youth ServicesRon Strong (District Supervisor)Ministry of Social ServicesAdolescent Street UnitBev Taylor (Area Manager)Ministry of Social ServicesAdolescent Street UnitJohn TurveyDEYASDowntown Eastside Youth Activities SocietySusan ViminitzGordon House Youth WorksYouthCherry KingsleySheila SharmaTina RileyFederation of B.C. Youth in Care NetworksYouth at DEYAS Detox Centre (432 E.Hastings St.)Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyAppendix B: Service Provider Interview Questions 133APPENDIX B: SERVICE PROVIDER INTERVIEW QUESTIONSThe set ofquestions listed below include all the questions asked during the interviews. However,not all questions were posed to every interviewee. The questions asked of each service providerwere customized to suit the individual focus or area of interest within the issue of street youthand housing.Legislative Policy1. What provincial legislation is in effect which impacts a youth’s ability to access housing?2. When people talk about youth, in particular 16 to 18 year olds, and that these youth fallthrough the gaps, what legislation or shortcomings are they referring to?3. Do you think Bills 45 and 46 will make any improvements to the Family and Child ServiceAct? If yes, how?Government Services and Ministry-Provided Housing1. What actions/programs has the City of Vancouver undertaken with respect to street youth andhousing?2. What is the role of the Social Planning/Housing and Properties Departments in the provisionof housing for street youth?3. What is the role of the Ministry of Social Services in providing housing for street youth?4. What actions/programs has the Ministry recently initiated with respect to housing for streetyouth?5. Are there any future plans/actions/announcements to be made regarding street youth andhousing?6. Have any actions been taken as a result of the ‘Reconnect Program’ study?7. What are the various types of housing operated through the Ministry of Social Services?8. How does a group home operate? How many group home beds are there in Vancouver? Isthis enough? Should there be more?9. Do you think group homes are an appropriate form of housing street youth? Why or why not?10. How does a foster home operate? How many foster home beds are there in Vancouver? Isthis enough? Should there be more?11. Do you think foster homes are an appropriate form of housing street youth? Why or why not?12. When did the safe house open? How long can a youth stay? Are regulations/rules enforcedon the youth? How many youth do you see a thy/week/month? When a youth comes to thesafe house, what legal steps must be followed?13. Do you believe the safe house is working? What aspects make it/don’t make it work? Whatdo you think needs improvement in terms of services and/or the manner of service provision?Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyAppendir B: Service Provider Interview Questions 134Access to Housing1. In general, what shortcomings/problems/barriers do you see in the current system regardingyouth and their ability to access and secure housing?A Model Housing ContinuumI. If there was to be a continuum of housing, how would you see it developed? Would there beanything specific you would want implemented?2. When planning for street youth, what factors do you see as critical?Access to Information1. Do you think there is a lack of knowledge on the part of street youth regarding the variousservices available?2. Do you think the necessary information is reaching street youth?Services Provided by the Agency1. What services does your agency provide?2. Is there any one particular group of street youth you provide services to more than others?General Information1. What are the different geographical areas Street youth ‘hang out’ in?Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case StudyAppendix C: Youth Interview Questions 135APPENDIX C: YOUTH INTERVIEW QUESTIONSFor the Iwo d[ferent groups ofyouth interviewed two d[ferent sets ofquestions were asked. Thequestions are outlined below.Staffat the Federation ofB.C. Youth in Care Networks1. For how many years have you been away from your family home or foster/group home?2. How many times had you left home before living on the street?3. When you left home, for how long did you remain away?4. Where did you normally stay? What types of housing did you live in?5. Did you live by yourself or with others?6. Did you use any services provided by ASU, SYS, or DEYAS?7. How long did you stay in your different accommodations?8. Did you feel safe?9. Did you have access to cooking or laundry facilities?10. Did anyone receive Income Assistance? Did you experience any problems when trying toreceive it? If yes, what?11. In general, how have landlords treated you?12. When you secured housing were the necessary services available to you?13. What were some of the major difficulties you experienced in trying to secure housing?14. Looking back, is there anything you wish had been in place that would have helped you findor secure housing?15. What recommendations would you make to improve the current system?Youth at the DEYAS Detox Centre1. Where do you normally sleep at night? What types of housing have you live in?2. Can you describe the physical condition of the housing you have lived in, and/or live in at thepresent?3. What problems do you see in the current system regarding housing for youth?4. What difficulties do you experience when trying to secure housing?5. How have you been treated by landlords?6. Do you receive Income Assistance?7. Have you ever had any problems in receiving Income Assistance?Housing Street Youth: A Vancouver Case Study

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