New facility exclusively dedicated to the needs of LGBTIQ2S youth will have 30 residential units
By Christopher Turner
Egale Canada Human Rights Trust continues to build on its plans to open a safe haven for LGBTIQ2S youth in Toronto. Construction on the long-awaited Egale Centre is set to begin this fall and will last approximately 12 months.
When the Egale Centre opens its doors, the 17,500-square-foot facility will combine intensive on-site counselling services with transitional and emergency housing to address the needs of Toronto’s homeless LGBTIQ2S youth between the ages of 16 to 29. The facility will take a harm-reductive, and skills-development approach to best address the unique challenges facing Toronto’s LGBTIQ2S homeless youth and empower them for a successful transition to stable, long-term and independent housing.
LGBTIQ2S youth in the city are significantly more likely to be homeless than the rest of the population, and often avoid the shelter system because of fear, harassment and violence. Considering that almost one in four homeless youth in Toronto identify somewhere under the LGBTIQ2S spectrum, programs that focus on their unique needs and safety have been a long time coming.
Egale and the YMCA and Egale were the two successful applicants to the City of Toronto’s Request for Expression of Interest to increase the total number of transitional housing beds for homeless youth by 55. On February 1, the YMCA reopened its Sprott House, located on Walmer Road in the Annex, as a transitional house for LGBT youth and those who identify as allies.
As Canada’s only national LGBT human rights charity, Egale has an extensive history of working to improve the lives of LGBTIQ2S youth across the country. It plans to renovate two existing Toronto Community Housing structures at the intersection of Dundas Street East and Pembrooke Street, and turn the space into a pet-friendly, safe space that builds on the best practices of successful shelters and assisted living facilities dedicated to LGBTIQ2S youth in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Paris and London. Each resident unit will be equipped with a private bathroom and shower, and some of the units will be double occupancy for youth who are partnered. Of the 30 resident units, 25 will be designated as transitional housing, which means homeless youth can stay for a period of up to one year while they work through an individual plan with counsellors toward long-term, stable housing. Five units will be designed as emergency.
To help on the operational side of the project, Egale has partnered with Fife House and Dixon Hall, two existing supportive housing programs in Toronto.
While we still have a long time to go before we see Egale’s transitional housing facility open its doors, supporters can begin to celebrate a significant turning point for Toronto when it comes to dealing with LGBTIQ2S homeless youth.
You can find out more about Egale’s plans for transitional and emergency housing and support their campaign at: egalecentre.ca.
CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN Magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.