Class Considerations: Street Youth
March 7 , 2012
- Street involved youth are a group of young people working and/or working
on or about the streets.
- Estimated 150,000 youth living on Canada’s streets
- Street entrenchment – forced economic survival, the (ab)use of drugs,
violence and the denial of human dignity that comes with being immersed in
Who are street involved youth?
- Chronic instability is instability in terms of housing, relationships, income
and health. This characterizes and unites youth.
- They usually stay together, engage in prostitution and commit petty offences.
- The longer they are homeless for, the more crime they are likely to commit.
- More males than females on streets.
- In Vancouver, half street youth are females. In Toronto there is 1/3.
- Street youth are more likely to have dropped out of school.
- Lesbians, Aboriginals, refugees and young women in public care are
overrepresented in the streets.
- Not secure and safe living conditions.
- Absolute homelessness – sleeping in places unfit for human habitation.
- Relative homelessness – situations where basic standards are not met like
unsafe rooming house.
- When a person’s living conditions doesn’t meet the UN basic standard –
affordable, secure, safe and clean with clean water – that person is
Youth, Child Poverty and the “New” Welfare State
- Three things account for why youth comprise such a significant portion of
o Reduction in affordable housing that is accessible to young people
o Youth unemployment
o Reduction in state benefit
- These interrelated factors have all contributed to greater inequality and an
unequal distribution of scarce resources.
Unstable Living Situation
- Neo liberal argument that these social failures should be made responsible
for themselves and face the consequences.
- Many Canadian cities are experiencing housing crisis. - Poverty and homelessness are intertwined social problems.
- Issue should be understood not only in terms of poverty but also labour
trends, family composition and government policies. Impact redistribution of
wealth in society.
- When vacancy rates are low, affordable housing for low income tenants,
especially those on social assistance is significantly harder to come by.
Unstable Youth Employment
- Work doesn’t necessarily change one’s homeless status.
- Even if youth are unemployed, it doesn’t change alter their poverty.
- Squeegee kids are the more entrepreneurial type. There was a moral panic
about them. Led to a number of municipal government making laws against
- Squeegee kids were actually less involved in crime.
- Shows how marginalized they are and how powerless they are.
Unstable support: reduction in state benefits
- Gap between rich and poor widening.
- IN 1995 welfare state reduced its social welfare programs, creating more
- Shifting to neo-liberalism.
Social Exclusion: Case of Female Youth
- Violence against girls and young women plays a significant role in them
- Many of them become pregnant.
- They are more vulnerable to re-victimizing.
- Act aimed towards removing y