Youth Out of Place Program: Identifying Homeless Youths in Toronto using GIS Applications
Samnang Phat, Eang
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At any time during the year as many as 65,000 youth in Canada are without a place to call home. In Toronto, it is estimated that there are at least 10,000 homeless youth in any given year, and as many as 2,000 on a given night (Covenant House Toronto, 2014). Their inability to access basic necessities are in fact due to their youth and inexperience. With limited access to shelter services, homeless youths are vulnerable to physical violence, drug and alcohol abuse, deterioration of health, victimization, and other dangers of living on the streets (Gaetz, 2004). Due to the fluidity and elusiveness of homeless youth and also because of their marginal status and declining public resources, this project will attempt to create an online service specifically targeted to this age group. The ENVS 4520 “Toronto Homeless Youth Group” has identified four essential services that these youths need to survive in their day-‐to-‐day lives and acquired a list of services through various methods of data collection. Utilizing Quantum GIS 1.8.0 (QGIS), we have created maps to identify the spatial locations of these services and have found there is a significant gap in these services, spatially as well as accessibility to youths under the age of 16. Due to the lack of services, our group created a website that will provide easy to read and up-‐to-‐date information on services available in the Central Toronto region. Using Google Fusion Tables, we also included a user-‐friendly map to identify location of these services. The Youth Out of Place Program (YOPP) website identifies local shelters, health services, legal aid services, and food banks and further provides detailed information on each location. Furthermore, youths utilizing the website can leave comments on their experiences with services as well as contact others in their community for guidance. The purpose of the research and analysis conducted was to identify homeless youth services in the Central Toronto region. Our results found a significant lack in essential services specifically targeted to homeless youths and attempted to create an online resource that can be used by community members to identify current services in the region.