On any given night, roughly 2,000 youth are unhoused in Toronto alone.[1] Statistically, more than half of them will have involvement with the justice system.[2]

While every young client that comes to Fernie is unique, an unfortunately common trait is a need for safe and affordable housing. Regardless of the stigma on young tenants and horror stories of landlords taking advantage, most young people trying to become contributing community members simply can’t afford the rent. The average cost of living in Toronto is $2286 per month,[3] but the average monthly income for people aged 16-24 was less than $1,600 per month[4].

Our city is known for having many housing help services for vulnerable people, but we aren’t keeping up with the demand. In Toronto, there are only 181 Transitional Housing Beds for Youth with a 100% occupancy rate[5] and a waitlist for youth social housing over 400 people long[6]. With these housing limitations, over one thousand young people are lost in the shelter system or in unsafe living conditions every year before being given a chance at healthy independence.

Fernie Youth Services has been operating a Transition House with 4 beds for youth since 2006. Young people with Youth Justice System involvement that demonstrate a need for housing and a readiness to live semi-independently can stay with us for up to one year. This program has a 95% success rate for young residents transitioning to purposeful adulthood and away from conflict with the law after one year of holistic support.

“Everybody needs a chance, whether it be their first, second or even third. My mission is to give people who have never been given that chance an opportunity. You’d be surprised at what people can accomplish if only given a chance.” – Sean Janes, Transition House Program Coordinator.

Programs like ours, with tailored in-house support for youth, are few and far between. We need more housing and community reintegration programs to give youth a chance to stay out of conflict with the law and become their best selves.

You can advocate for housing for our most vulnerable and raise vital funds to meet their basic needs by joining the national Coldest Night of the Year walkathon today.

Register for Fernie’s Scarborough East event today and walk with us on February 25th, 2023. 


[1] https://www.evas.ca/about-us/facts-about-youth-homelessness/#_ftn1

[2] https://www.homelesshub.ca/toolkit/youth-homelessness-overview

[3] https://livingcost.org/cost/canada/on/toronto

[4] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1110023901&pickMembers%5B0%5D=1.17&pickMembers%5B1%5D=2.2&pickMembers%5B2%5D=3.1&pickMembers%5B3%5D=4.1&cubeTimeFrame.startYear=2016&cubeTimeFrame.endYear=2020&referencePeriods=20160101%2C20200101

[5] Daily Shelter & Overnight Service Usage – City of Toronto

[6] https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/data-research-maps/research-reports/housing-and-homelessness-research-and-reports/social-housing-waiting-list-reports/

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