Speaker series in York Region will focus on changing approach to youth homelessness


United Way York Region and York University putting research into action

TORONTO, February 11, 2013 – Researchers, social service providers and government representatives will meet in Markham on Tuesday, Feb. 12, to hear how Niagara is addressing homelessness among youths, and to learn what might work in York Region and elsewhere in Canada.

Mike Lethby, executive director of Niagara Resource Service for Youth, will provide the keynote speech during the first of seven sessions in a Learning Series focused on developing an integrated response to youth homelessness. The Learning Series is the result of a partnership between the United Way York Region and York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Eva’s National Initiatives Program, and the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN), based at York University.

Lethby, who founded the non-profit Foundation of Resources for Teens, completed a study for the federal government in 2006 on access to employment for homeless people in the Niagara Region. Working with at-risk youth and their families, he is regarded as a principal actor in moving the region’s youth service model from a reactive institutional crisis model to a preventative community model.

He will outline Niagara’s systems approach in response to youth homelessness, including the role of research, a Youth Without Secure Housing roundtable and relationships with schools and families, as part of the Youth Reconnect Program.

York University Professor Stephen Gaetz, director of CHRN, is leading the Learning Series project. At a United Way−York U conference in November, leaders in the field concluded that addressing youth homelessness would require a shift from an emergency response model to one that focuses on preventing youth homelessness and rapidly rehousing youths who become homeless, he said.

The Learning Series, from February to June, will feature seven speakers who think outside the box, and have developed creative and effective responses to youth homelessness that will inspire people who work with homeless youth in York Region and across Canada, said Gaetz.

WHAT: Youth Homelessness Learning Series, session 1
Mike Lethby, executive director of Niagara Resource Service for Youth

WHERE: Markham Convergence Centre, 7271 Warden Avenue, Markham.

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 9 to 11am

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre, York is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York’s 11 faculties and 28 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 288 leading universities worldwide. York's community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 250,000 alumni.

United Way York Region serves nine municipalities: Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville. In addition to its traditional role of supporting agencies to meet urgent needs, United Way is working to tackle the root causes of social issues. To help strengthen York Region’s quality of life, United Way is uniting people and resources on three priorities: moving people from poverty to possibility, helping kids be all they can be, and building healthy people and strong communities.

Media Contacts:
Janice Walls, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22101, wallsj@yorku.ca
Adriana Suppa, Director, Communications, United Way York Region, 905 474 9974 ext. 358 asuppa@uwyr.on.ca