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Ontario government to support homeless queer youth

Egale Youth OUTreach set to open in 2017, provide counselling and drop-in services

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed the gathered crowd on May 31, 2016, for the unveiling of the Egale Centre.  Credit: Arshy Mann/Daily Xtra

The Ontario government is pledging $1.5 million to support Egale Youth OUTreach, a counselling and drop-in service for homeless queer and trans youth.

The announcement came during the unveiling of the Egale Centre on May 31, 2016, which will provide transitional and emergency housing for 30 queer and trans youth.

“We have a long way to go,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne at the event. “We know, because many of our community’s youth pay the price for the distance we have not yet travelled on this journey."

Youth OUTreach and the Egale Centre are intended to work in tandem to provide both housing support and other services to queer and trans youth that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The Egale Centre, which is scheduled to open in late 2017, will be the second LGBT-focused shelter in Toronto. Sprott House was converted into a queer and trans–focused shelter earlier this year.

Queer and trans youth face significantly higher rates of homelessness than the rest of the population.

“These grim statistics reflect the toll that homophobia and transphobia take on our youth,” Wynne said. “Too often our community’s youth avoid seeking help because of encounters with homophobia and transphobia at other institutions.”

The City of Toronto, through the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, is providing use of the building, located at the corner of Dundas and Pembroke Streets. They will also be providing around $1 million dedicated to renovating the space and continual funding for operations of the centre.

Liberal MPP Glen Murray, who early in his career worked on the street with youth, spoke about the personal importance the issue has to him.

“I spent 10 years of my life working on the street,” he said, “working with kids who sell their bodies and do really self-destructive things because they’ve been so badly brutalized in their homes.”

“My son Michael lived on the streets for the better part of a decade,” he said. “All of these kids taught me that no matter how terrible your life is you can find resilience and courage.

“And in my career here as an MPP, this is a day I’ll never forget. Because this a place of healing for those kids.”