If it wasn’t clear before then it was after Tuesday’s (Feb. 15) council meeting — youth homelessness in Penticton is real.
It’s something mayor John Vasilaki called an “imperative issue” that must be addressed and one that counc. Judy Sentes described as an “almost tragically silent problem.”
A report called “No Where to Go” stated that 1 in 20 people in Penticton aged 12 to 24 may be homeless.
The presentation concluded with city council unanimously voting to pass a motion endorsing the report.
Data about the issue has been collected since the city applied for a research grant in 2020 for the purpose of investigating youth homelessness.
“There’s a complete lack of emergency housing in our community,” said Kim Lyster, one of the presenters of the report, to city council on Tuesday.
A total of 264 youth participated in the survey, with 20 per cent saying they either have no one to talk to for support or they don’t know who to turn to.
“We have to do the best we can to support the youth of this community so that they don’t end up permanently homeless in the city of Penticton,” Vasilaki said.
As a result of council’s decision to endorse the report, city staff will send the data to provincial and federal ministries. Council will also work with local youth and community partners to implement the recommendations of the report.
Among those recommendations include creating more housing options and increasing support for families with at-risk youth.
“This is our future we’re talking about,” Sentes said.
“These young people need our help and have much to offer if they could just get through this tragic time in their lives.”
Lyster added during the presentation that there are between 135 and 140 youth who are homeless, with the youngest person they met through research being 12-years old.
Though there are emergency housing options for female youth in Penticton, the report states that there are currently no options for male youth who are experiencing homelessness.
A copy of the Penticton-based research will be sent to provincial and federal levels of government.