Local anti-poverty worker heading up homelessness study 0
Why do young people, the rural poor, gravitate to urban centres? And what causes them to become homeless? What were the factors at home that led them to think begging on street corners would be the best way to tackle life's challenges?
Those are the answers Fay Martin wants. The social worker is heading up To Go Or To Stay, a new one-year research study being conducted in affiliation with the Peterborough Youth Emergency Shelter.
With $75,000 in federal funding announced at the shelter Tuesday by MP Dean Del Mastro, Martin (from Minden) will begin interviewing young people 16 to 30 to determine why they left their homes in the county to eke out impoverished lives on the streets of Peterborough.
"We're looking at the whole series of decisions that have the result of them being homeless," Martin said.
Her experience has shown her many of the causes of homelessness: poverty, abuse, neglect. "Troubled home lives are always a factor," she said.
The study, which will take a year to carry out, will help give service providers a clearer picture of who uses their services and why, Martin said.
The funding came from the Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development.
Del Mastro announced the funding in the Carriage House, a small outbuilding behind the Youth Emergency Shelter on Brock St. He said the study will explore migration patterns and paint a clearer picture of how country kids wind up homeless on city streets.
He praised YES and its mission, but said not every community is lucky enough to have people like director Walter Johnstone ready to help.
"If there isn't an agency like YES to support them, they wind up on the streets," he said.
Del Mastro said the government has spent years tackling the result of homelessness, but this project is about identifying the root causes in order to make the problem a thing of the past.
"It's fundamental that we understand this," he said.
Helping young people from troubled homes develop necessary life skills is crucial, the MP said. "We want them to find a path to success."
The study is focused on young people raised in Peterborough County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes who either left and never returned or left and came back.
Martin will oversee interviews with young people before compiling the results and making them available as raw data to an advisory committee made up of representatives from local housing, justice, health and education agencies.
NOTE: Walter Johnstone, executive director of the Youth Emergency Shelter, said the academic programs offered by the centre through the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board won't be affected by the closure of nearby PCVS after this school year.