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Canada’s Youth Housing Crisis: How to Make a Difference in Your Community

Youth make up 20 percent of Canada's homeless population. The Home Depot Canada Foundation is on a mission to change that.

Canada’s Youth Housing Crisis: How to Make a Difference in Your Community
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When you think Home Depot, you probably picture aisles and aisles of everything you could possibly need to update, renovate and furnish your home. What you might not know is that The Home Depot Canada Foundation (THDCF) is tirelessly fighting youth homelessness through campaigns like the Orange Door Project which empowers youth and creates systemic change in local communities throughout Canada.

It’s a tough reality, but youth make up about 20 percent of the unhoused population nationwide, and that number continues to rise. Right now, approximately 35,000 to 40,000 Canadian youth—averaging 16 years of age—don’t have a place to call home. The solution isn’t simple, and the issues unhoused youth face are complex.

How The Home Depot Canada Foundation helps fight youth homelessness

THDCF believes in a holistic approach that engages partners, supporters and community to support youth via employment programs, skills development, research and investment in local initiatives. The Foundation's ultimate goal is to not only end youth homelessness but prevent chronic homelessness as well. You, too can help support this goal now.

Amy Bilodeau, Senior Manager of Community Investment at The Home Depot Canada says that supporting homeless youth felt like a natural bridge for the company. “We are home builders, we thought, how do we leverage this for a cause where we can make a difference?”

What is The Orange Door Project?

Tackling a large problem takes many hands and a wave of effort. Since 2014, THDCF’s Orange Door Project campaign has issued grants to local organizations and initiatives with an emphasis on housing, employment, prevention, life skills and research. This year, from June 4 to July 7, customers who donate at the local Home Depot Canada store, or online via orangedoorproject.ca, will contribute to a youth-serving organization in their community.

Canada’s Youth Housing Crisis: How to Make a Difference in Your Community

How the program works

When choosing which organizations to work with, Bilodeau says that they vigorously vet those who are looking for ways to expand stable housing, create safe temporary housing, subsidize rent, offer job readiness programs and give opportunities for trade-based employment. “Wraparound community support looks at barriers that youth face and how we can tackle them,” she says. “We look at prevention strategies and try to understand what’s going on so we can work to find someone within their (youth) circle.”

An example of this is a high school couple from Durham Region who were sleeping in an unfinished basement and living with rigid rules that allotted them specific times to use the kitchen and washroom. After a fire left them displaced and injured, their school connected them to a member of Durham Youth Services—a non-profit that knows that even one night on the street or in a shelter can increase the risk of chronic homelessness—who helped the couple access services to enable a greater income, provided food and helped them find a safe shared house with a yard for their dogs. “We are so happy and feel so lucky,” the couple say. “It wasn’t long ago when we didn’t want to go home to a cold, dark basement. Now we have big windows and nice things. All the things are ours. We would like to see more people have what we have.”

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Durham Youth Services is just one of 125 community partners across the country that benefit from The Orange Door Project. But these charities continue to face new hurdles as the homelessness crisis in Canada becomes more urgent. To help, THDCF is increasing their investment to $125 million by 2030—surpassing its previous $50 million pledge—to remove systemic barriers and create a stronger network of support for youth facing homelessness.

How you can help

The good news is that you can contribute to the success of unhoused youth in your community by donating at your local The Home Depot Canada store or online.

Your contributions will directly impact a youth-serving organization in your community. Each of the 182 stores across Canada is paired up with a local youth serving organization in their community with partners in-store to speak to the direct impact donations have, explains Bilodeau. “100 per cent of customer dollars are helping to prevent youth homelessness very directly in their community,” she says. “It’s a national campaign but it’s community focused.”

Make an online donation, or stop into your local store to learn more about how your contribution can make a difference in a local youth’s life.

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