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York youth homelessness program gets boost from United Way

United Way Greater Toronto is investing a total of $1.5 million over three years to support seven community programs in the fight against growing local poverty in Toronto, York and Peel
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United Way Greater Toronto is investing $1.5 million over three years to help community partners address emerging issues in the fight against local poverty, including a program to tackle youth homelessness in York Region.

Led by 360⁰ Kids, the York Region Youth Homelessness Prevention and Housing Stabilization Strategy pulls together several agencies from different sectors to help young people receive the support they need to avoid becoming, or returning to, homelessness.

“We’re very encouraged that our program... will develop a system of care that involves improved service coordination across sectors — with government, researchers and other organizations," said Clovis Grant, executive director of 360⁰ Kids, in a news release.

"We can be more efficient in our responses to ensure that more young people in York Region receive timely supports and reduce their likelihood of falling into homelessness.”

The partners in the local initiative include A Way Home Canada, York Region Collaborative, Social Planning Council York Region and YouthRex.

In total, the $1.5-million investment will support seven new projects in Toronto, Peel and York that take a collaborative approach to creating systemic change.

Another project that will receive funding is #AndMeToo. While the Me Too movement has raised awareness about the issues, the day-to-day reality for many women has not improved — the number of precariously employed women requesting law-related help has increased, according to the news release.

The program will focus on advocacy to address sexual assault, harassment and coercion in the workplace, and will assess and direct services through research, focus groups and a public campaign to reform legislation. Led by the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, partners include OCASI, CUPE National, UNIFOR Women’s Rights division, Osgoode Law School and the Equal Pay Coalition.

Ontario for All, which supports civic engagement in public policy processes to drive meaningful change, will also receive funding. This forum will continue to support United Way community partners to ensure residents have a strong, collective voice to combat poverty with initiatives such as civic action planning workshops, a digital network and civic action teams, the news release said.

The program is led by Toronto Neighbourhood Centres and the Scarborough Civic Action Network, which is trusteed by Agincourt Community Services Association, in partnership with Indus Community Services and other community organizations across Peel and York.  

“To truly solve the problem of poverty, we need to address systemic barriers to create opportunities for people. This investment is about helping community partners work together and work differently to tackle the big issues that are emerging in Peel, Toronto and York Region," Daniele Zanotti, president & CEO of United Way Greater Toronto, said. "Ultimately, these collaborations will create long-term change in GTA communities."