What does it mean to be a homeless youth? Since the term varies across countries, federal agencies, and leading national organizations, it is not easy to find an exact definition. However, seeing that this article focuses on youth homelessness in Ontario, it seems most appropriate to use the Canadian interpretation. Under this definition, homeless youth are “individuals between the ages of thirteen and twenty-four who live independently but do not have the means or capability to acquire a stable, safe, or consistent residence.” A significant reason adolescents cannot break out of their predicaments is their inability to find suitable employment. Whether it be a high school diploma or a university degree, every job typically requires an education. However, it is often a challenge for homeless youth to attend school because other factors, including not having access to affordable housing, adequate income, and supporting networks, prevent them from seeing it as a realistic possibility. With this in mind, it is crucial to address the barriers that stand in the way of adolescents completing an education since they cannot pursue gainful career options nor improve their quality of life without one.
Every youth has the right to receive proper schooling, including those experiencing homelessness. In addition, they are entitled to adequate housing under the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. As a result, every country must realize that it violates human dignity if the homeless do not receive assistance when finding a fixed residence. This does not necessarily entail that all individuals should be guaranteed the best place available at no cost; however, states must make certain that everyone has the means to acquire proper housing. While prioritizing the need for basic shelter is most important, efforts should also include helping the homeless overcome the obstacles that prevent them from finishing school. For instance, some educational facilities do not have enough money to assist homeless youth, leading them to either fail or drop out. Although teachers must know each student's situation, it ultimately falls on the government to supply school faculty with the funds and training they require to effectively address the needs of every individual. With this support, academic institutions will be able to play a more significant role in ending homelessness by ensuring each person has the resources to receive an education and the ability to access greater employment opportunities. In addition, having this knowledge will benefit future studies on homelessness and help generate solutions on how to tackle the issue in Ontario, the rest of Canada, and perhaps other parts of the world, showing why it cannot be overlooked.
“About Homelessness: Education.” The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. Accessed November 21, 2021. https://www.homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/education-training-employment/education.
“Canadian Definition of Youth Homelessness.” The National Center for Homeless Education. Accessed November 22, 2021. https://homelesshub.ca/sites/default/files/Definition_of_Youth_Homelessness.pdf.
“Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness: An Introduction to the Issue.” The National Center for Homeless Education. Accessed November 21, 2021. https://nche.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/introduction.pdf.
“Homelessness and Human Rights.” United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Accessed November 21, 2021. https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/housing/pages/homelessnessandhumanrights.aspx.