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A Profile of Vancouver's Street Youth

Covenant House Vancouver opened its doors in September of 1997 in response to a study that revealed that there were over 10,000  (now around 8,500) runaways in BC annually. The study also revealed that street youth were in desperate need of short-term transitional shelter and long-term supportive housing.

Covenant House Vancouver provides food, shelter, clothing and counselling to the estimated 700 (believed to be an undercount but no other number is deemed more reliable) street youth living in Vancouver at any given time.  Most of the young people we help have fled abuse at home or have aged out of the foster care system. Last year, over 1,300 young people accessed our services.

We have compiled some statistics that provide more insight into street youth and the issues they face:

  • 39% of our youth present with a mental health diagnosis
  • 70% have witnessed family violence
  • 50% of our youth present with an addiction problem

Success Indicators:

  • 96% of our youth report that Covenant House has helped them
  • 83% of youth feel more confident about their future after staying at Covenant House
Crisis Program:

528  youth stayed with us
49% left the shelter with housing
Average length of stay has increased in past five years (we know that a young person's success rate increases significantly with longer stays)


984 youth came to the Drop-In
1,409 housing worker appointments were held; 45 youth secured accomodation and 214  maintained their existing home
3,685 contact were made on the street (630 individual youth)

Rights of Passage (ROP):

25  youth in the program
Average length of stay has increased  in past 6 years 
100% of youth who left ROP went to secure housing

Other findings (from McCreary Centre Society):

  • Marginalized and street-involved youth are three times more likely to be physically and sexually abused than youth the same age in school
  • More than one in three of the youth report having been sexually exploited
  • Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented, comprising 38-75% of Vancouver’s homeless youth population

Links to other data:

2016 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count
2014 Homeless Count in the Metro Vancouver Region
Metro Vancouver's Regional Homelessness Plan
Housing Policy, Homelessness, Vancouver
The State of Homelessness in Canada 2014
Youth Homelessness in Canada: The Road to Solutions 
Homeless Voices, 2010:  Listening to Vancouver Residents Who Have Experienced Homelessness, Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy,   
One Step Forward:  Results of the 2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count

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