The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt in every corner of our lives. Each of us has faced our own challenges over the last few months. Thankfully, many in BC are now moving towards recovery: getting back to work, catching up with friends, and taking vacations around the province.

But for young people experiencing homelessness, the pandemic is still having a severe impact on their health, safety, and security. That’s the finding from a new report from the BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. As new members of the Coalition this year, we’re proud to contribute to the report and stand behind the urgent call to end youth homelessness and leave no young person behind.

Read the full COVID-19 and Youth Homelessness Special Report from the BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness.

From the earliest days, young people without a safe home have been hit hard by the pandemic. And it will continue to affect them for a long time to come, as they try to find secure housing, employment, and income in more difficult circumstances than ever.

The impact of COVID-19 on youth facing homelessness

For their new report, the BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness consulted with youth and youth-serving organizations from across the province, to understand what young people have experienced over the last few months. The findings make sobering reading.

In every aspect of their lives – from housing to employment, education to mental health – young people are facing greater challenges than ever. Some of those challenges include:

  • Reduced access to shelter beds, and fears that shelters are not free of COVID-19
  • Increase in abuse and violence because youth are forced to share space with an abuser for an extended period of time
  • Increased access to the online world making youth more susceptible to abuse
  • Increased family conflict
  • Increased loneliness and anxiety
  • Lack of in-person mental health support
  • Increased substance abuse due to lack of purpose and structure
  • Challenges transitioning to online learning
  • Increased competition for jobs and lack of entry level jobs

Take action now to end youth homelessness

But along with the challenges, there are solutions to be found. The Coalition are calling for a province-wide action plan to tackle youth homelessness. As they say, “we need to bring communities together to create a sense of purpose and connection for our youth who are so desperately searching for a sense of belonging.” Their report puts forward many recommendations for how government and service providers can work together to end youth homelessness, and support young people as we move towards recovery.

The pandemic has given us an opportunity to tackle youth homelessness once and for all, by investing in a “recovery for all” that does not leave youth behind. Now is the time to seize this opportunity.

You can take action today by: