Canadian Homeless Count – Time to count the Youth. They Matter Too!

screenshot_2I’ve never – I admit – been a fan of this bullshit experiment. I say it’s bullshit because it is scientifically impossible to count every single person in an entire country who is homeless.

Mostly because a lot of people who are homeless don’t want to be counted. So they hide. I know this for a fact because I participated in one a few years ago. When the numbers came in they were significantly lower than they should have been.

One year the report was released it stated there was 1 homeless youth in all of Surrey, BC. That I know for a fact is complete bullshit.

The Homeless count does not recognize people who are couch surfing. They do not recognize people they cannot find.

Vancouver gets most of, if not all of the funding for At risk Youth alone. Mainly because many of the youth that admit to being homeless are from Surrey but hide in Vancouver.

The homeless youth community in Vancouver is much larger than Surrey – there are and I quote “More places to hide, and more people to connect to. More services and it’s just safer to be a homeless youth in Vancouver than it is in Surrey or White Rock.”

Which isn’t saying much at all.

In Vancouver many youth end up on the streets selling their bodies for food, drugs, or just to pay the rent – if they are lucky enough to have a place to pay rent to.

Surrey doesn’t have any Emergency Youth Shelters. If someone under the age of 19 is stuck on the streets in Surrey past 1 am they are stuck. There is no way for them to get to a shelter because the Train system has stopped – even if they could jump a train chances are they will get a ticket if not be arrested for trying to get to Vancouver and a safe place to sleep for the night.

Surrey has at least 4 emergency shelters – even more during the cold winter nights. While many adults choose to sleep outside for Youth it isn’t a choice, it’s a given.

It’s easy to say that the city of Surrey doesn’t care about Today’s homeless youth, the truth is not that they do not care. I know more than a few City Officials who are working hard to change this but they need help.

They need to know who homeless youth are. They need to be told that you as an adult actually give a flying fuck about today’s children.

It’s been big news lately that children in foster care are in danger but only because of the ones who died – who’s parents gave enough of a shit to go to the press. What about the others?

When I lived in Calgary I only knew of 1 kid who lived in Foster Care and his foster parents actually cared about him.

When we moved to B.C. I knew of about 30 kids living in Foster Care. Many of them came to school in dirty clothing and had no food for lunch. Some of them even came to school with bruises because they’d been beaten the night before.

Today is no different. We all know the Foster Care system around the globe is flawed. Children are more often than not more in danger in a Foster home than they are in their actual homes because a lot of Foster Parent’s just don’t give a shit.

They do it for the money.

It is long past time that Surrey, BC not only open an Emergency Shelter but one that is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

We need to have a place that youth can run to in the middle of the night if they escape.

Years ago, I was about sixteen years old. A friend of mine was running away from his Emergency home. He was being starved and badly abused physically. My mom not knowing much at the time about abuse in foster care or homeless youth called the police and his social worker. Thinking that he’d be allowed to spend the night, but wanting to make sure she wasn’t breaking any laws.

They returned him to his foster home. I never saw him again. He realized in that moment, that although I was trying to help him, my house was not a safe place to be.

The next time a friend needed a place to escape to, my mother didn’t call the police or the social workers. She knew better.

I’m not saying that when a child runs away we shouldn’t do everything we can to do things legally I’m saying if a child runs away they need to have a safe place to be, in order to make sure they will be safe.

Too many times kids are ignored when abuse is reported. Children have now died. They’ve jumped off bridges, out of hotel windows, swallowed pills.

With everything going on in this world, when will enough be enough? How many more children from our homes need to die before we start standing up for the kids who cannot stand up for themselves?

We’ve been asking for a youth Shelter for years now. More years than I’ve been involved, and now it’s time that we force Justin Trudeu and the City of Surrey to listen.

There are qualified people willing to volunteer their time to run the shelter, we just need the funds to build the space, add beds and food and whatever emergency supplies are needed. It’s time.


2 thoughts on “Canadian Homeless Count – Time to count the Youth. They Matter Too!

  1. Thanks for this excellent article. It hardly would seem to need saying, but it does that Canada has no monopoly on this set of problems. Here, in your southern neighbor, I am quite sure the situation is even worse, and about to get worse still with our Minority President ordering broader categories of priority of deportation of undocumented immigrants. Some will go into hiding, including homeless Latino youth. some who will be so due to their parents or other family being deported and with them their incomes and housing.

    I lived many years in Santa Cruz, CA, a town that attracted homeless youths and adults with its mild climate and tolerance for alternative ways of life. Much as the local government and community organizations try to do, and they do a lot, the resources available are never enough.

    Thank you, again.

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