Community leaders camp out on a frigid night in a bid to end youth homelessness in Ottawa

OTTAWA, November 21, 2014—Young people from across Ottawa joined community leaders to sleep out in the cold in an effort to raise funds to combat youth homelessness in Ottawa. The SleepOUT for Youth event, organized by the Youth Services Bureau (YSB,) surpassed its target goal, and raised $125,000.

Despite the frigid arrival of winter this week, more than 250 people joined city luminaries Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau, Fire Chief John DeHooge, Paramedic Chief Anthony DiMonte, Deputy Police Chief Jill Skinner, Stéphane Giguere, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing, and many more, spending the night in the cold to bring the issue of youth homelessness to the fore.

“Although Ottawa is a great place to live, the truth is that there are about 1000 young people every year in this city who don’t have a safe place to sleep,” said Joanne Lowe, Executive Director of YSB. “Our emergency shelters have about 30 beds – it’s nowhere near enough to meet the need that’s out there.”

This year’s event has seen phenomenal effort by the community, as they have rallied to raise funds and the profile of this issue. Participants in the SleepOUT for Youth raised more than $100,000. Funds from this campaign will go towards running YSB’s emergency shelters for young men and young women. In addition to its housing programs, YSB also has a drop-in centre, food bank, health clinic, and other services for street-involved youth.

“We believe that everyone has the right to a warm, safe place to sleep, every night,” said Chief Charles Bordeleau, of the Ottawa Police. “Young people make up the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. If we can help them now, we can stop them from becoming entrenched in that life.”

“I love sleeping under the stars,” said one young participant. “The difference with homeless youth is that they don’t have a choice, and sleeping outside in the winter is not fun.”  Young people were key participants this year, representing a variety of schools, including Sacred Heart, Nepean HS, Ashbury, Glebe, Lisgar, Turnbull, University of Ottawa, Algonquin College, and La Cité Collégial.

The event culminated in a significant announcement: as a part of their Orange Door Project initiative, The Home Depot Canada Foundation made a $100,000 grant in support of YSB’s efforts to end youth homelessness. “We’re committed to making sure that homeless youth have access to safe housing,” says Paulette Minard, General Manager, The Home Depot Canada Foundation. “By ensuring youth have access to safe housing and supportive services we are enabling them to realize brighter futures.”

About the Youth Services Bureau
YSB is one of the largest and most comprehensive non-profit agencies serving youth in Ottawa. It offers over 30 programs and serves 3,000 youth and families every month in the areas of youth engagement, housing and homelessness, mental health, youth justice and employment.

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For more information:
Suzanne Fraser
613-277-7103
sfraser <at> ysb.on.ca

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