MP John Aldag, Cloverdale-Langley City

Youth leading charge in addressing youth homelessness

A youth council is hosting a townhall meeting aimed at increasing awareness of the issue in Langley.

Youth homelessness is much more common than many people realize.

Langley alone has an estimated 50 homeless youth and as many as 500 more “at risk” of becoming homeless.

To help raise awareness about this issue, a non-partisan youth council, appointed by the local MP, is organizing a townhall meeting to address the issue later this month.

“The plight of youth homelessness in our area has consistently been pushed out of sight. That is why our Cloverdale-Langley City youth council has decided that enough is enough, and we are dedicating ourselves to bringing this issue to light,” said council member Youeal Abera.

It’s an event by youth, for youth, and it’s designed to raise awareness, decrease stigma, and provide tools to youth and others who want to help but may not know how to reach out, said the council.

Confronted by the increasingly complex reality of youth homelessness, members of today’s society have an increased awareness that they need to develop solutions and build ladders of success for vulnerable youth to climb, the team shared.

Key to understanding youth homelessness is the realization that it involves young people who are trying to survive without the supports that many of people take for granted.

Although, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of youth who lack a fixed address, the aim of the Cloverdale-Langley City youth council is to ensure that no young person in the community finds themselves without stable housing.

“Youth homelessness is a cause for compassion, and that is why we should take action,” shared youth council member Jessica Jahn.

The council feels that by understanding root causes, people are in a better position to empathize with youth who find themselves without secure housing, rather than adding to the existing stigmas they face.

The townhall event will feature a panel of speakers including Alison Nichol from Encompass Supports, who helps run the newly opened Langley Youth Resource Centre Hub, as well as Peer-Daniel Krause from the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, who will provide information from the 2017 homeless count.

The event is intended to explore solutions to youth homelessness and ways to best identify and support youth-at-risk of homelessness in the neighbouring communities.

Members of the youth council will also present a tool kit containing practical information for all community members to help prevent and respond to youth homelessness.

The townhall session takes place at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus, 20901 Langley Bypass, on Wednesday, May 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in room 1804. Free parking will be offered with passes available in the classroom.

The public is invited to attend including community-based youth service providers, youth advocates, teachers, other concerned members of the community, and most especially youth who want to learn about how they can help their peers who find themselves at risk of becoming homeless.

“Please join us in working together to ensure that no young person in our community finds themselves without stable housing,” said the council.

RELATED: New Langley Youth Hub set to open soon

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