3rd Floor, City Hall
453 West 12th Ave
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4
Dear Mayor Stewart
I am writing this letter today on behalf of the TRRUST Collective. TRRUST (Transition in Resources, Relationships, and Understanding Support Together) is a Collective Impact (CI) initiative which began in April 2014. TRRUST is a shared effort, now composed of over 60 organizations and 250 members, including non-profit organizations, government agencies, and young people with lived experience of government care (see https://www.mcs.bc.ca/trrust for more details). The common interest of all TRRUST members is to achieve system-wide improvements in the outcomes for youth transitioning out of government care in Vancouver, British Columbia. While our common goal is the same, this letter may not reflect the opinions of all members. With that being said, it is safe to say that no person or organization in the TRRUST Collective wants to see youth age out into homelessness.
The TRRUST Collective would like to extend our appreciation for your recent funding support for our youth driven COVID-19 Task Force. We also commend you and the City Councilors for making a strong commitment to address the housing crisis by committing $30 million to house homeless people in vacant hotels and apartment buildings and we understand that there has been a recent addition of $50 million from the Federal Government’s Rapid Housing Initiative.
Each year in Vancouver, approximately 100 youth age out of government care and youth agreements at the age of 19. Moving out for youth should be a time of excitement and opportunity and yet for many youth in care it comes with fear and anxiety as they try to figure out how they will meet their basic needs while losing services, support and connections. In Fostering Changes’ report, Opportunities in Transition, it is noted that most young people aged 20 to 24 have low incomes and they tend to rely on family for additional financial support. In fact, 60% of youth in this age range live in their parental homes. Youth aging out of care do not have that option. They lack the financial resources to meet basic needs, have difficulty finding housing in their community due to the Vancouver housing crisis, and often end up couch surfing, homeless and living on the street.
During the 2018 Metro Vancouver Youth Homeless Count, 349 youth and children were experiencing homelessness in Vancouver. 50% of these youth had previously been or were currently in foster care, a group home, or on an independent living arrangement. In the best of times, the transition out of care is extremely challenging for these young people. This year with the unimaginable challenges that are impacting youth aging out of care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current deadline of March 31st to move out for those who have reached their 19th birthday will definitely be a tough one.
According to rentals.ca, in October 2020, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver BC was $1941 per month. Based on current government support structures, youth would need to have a minimum of 3-5 roommates living in a one-bedroom apartment to meet the CMHC standards for affordability. It may be possible to find slightly less expensive places, but there would likely be reduced safety, increased distance from family and friends, poor living conditions, and shared spaces with people they do not know.
A person working full time making minimum wage in Vancouver earns approximately $2,000 per month. Many organizations, including the City of Vancouver, have acknowledged the importance of a living wage and have agreed to be living wage employers. A person working full time making a living wage in Vancouver earns approximately $2,700 per month. This implies that at a minimum, people need $2,000 per month and to be able to live in Vancouver they need $2,700. The current financial support maximum for youth leaving care is $1,250, and without subsidized housing available for our most vulnerable populations, positive outcomes are few and far between.
Currently, youth are permitted to shelter in place during the pandemic, and we urge that a plan be in place before this moratorium is lifted on March 31st, 2021 when an estimated 200 youth aging out of government care and youth agreements in Vancouver may face adverse outcomes associated with experiencing homelessness. Additionally, we ask that you allocate 200 units of subsidized housing to strengthen and support this population, because we believe every youth should age out of the child welfare system into dignity and safety.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your response. If you have questions, require further information or would like a follow-up meeting, please contact [email protected]
TRRUST Collective Impact