33 safe space will open for youths of the LGBTQI2S community
Today, the City of Toronto is announcing the opening of a new transitional housing facility that will provide units for 33 youth between the ages of 16 and 29, who identify as LGBTQI2S and are currently experiencing homelessness. The first group of youth move into the facility today.
The site will give youth a place to live for three to 12 months, depending on need, with an option to extend their stay after the first year. Services will focus on providing a safer space where youth can access meals, mental and physical health care services, and community and life skills programming.
Youth will also be able to access supports for specific communities, including groups for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) youth, transgender people, newcomers and refugees.
“I am pleased that our city has forged a partnership with Friends of Ruby to establish a transitional home for LGBTQI2S youth who are facing homelessness. Vulnerable youth and especially those who identify as LGBTQI2S are in need of a place where they feel welcome and are able to receive the help they need. By providing a service like this, we can help break the cycle of homelessness for these youth and ensure that they are on a path towards independence and housing stability.” – Mayor John Tory
The facility will be operated by Friends of Ruby, a registered charity dedicated to serving LGBTQI2S youth who often experience disproportionally high rates of family rejection, violence and trauma.
Friends of Ruby was founded by Egale Canada, which was awarded the contract to operate the project by the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division in 2014. The City provided Friends of Ruby with $1.15 million to help offset construction costs and will provide them with $1.2 million annually to assist with operating costs.
The facility, once an underutilized Toronto Community Housing Corporation building, was designed in consultation with LGBTQI2S youth and community partners. The newly renovated space features mostly individual rooms, with a few rooms for couples, along with shared spaces to foster a sense of connection. It is fully accessible, energy-efficient, pet-friendly, and features a rooftop garden.
“The Friends of Ruby Home is uniquely suited to help LGBTQI2S youth during these times due to its one of-a-kind mental health approach, including in-house programs and services tailored to their specific needs. From immediate crisis support to long-term life goal planning, everything at the facility will be geared towards helping youth achieve healthier, independent lives.” – Carol Osler, Executive Director, Friends of Ruby
According to the City’s Street Needs Assessment conducted in 2018, one in four youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQI2S. This new facility will provide much needed transitional housing to help vulnerable youth exit homelessness.