Toronto: The City of Toronto has announced the opening of a new transitional housing facility that will provide units for 33 youth between the ages of 16 and 29, who identify as LGBTQI2S and are currently experiencing homelessness.
The first group of youth moved into the facility on Monday. The site will give youth a place to live for three to 12 months, depending on need, with an option to extend their stay after the first year.
Services will focus on providing a safer space where youth can access meals, mental and physical health care services, and community and life skills programming.
Youth will also be able to access supports for specific communities, including groups for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) youth, transgender people, newcomers and refugees.
The facility will be operated by Friends of Ruby, a registered charity dedicated to serving LGBTQI2S youth who often experience disproportionately high rates of family rejection, violence and trauma.
Friends of Ruby was founded by Egale Canada, which was awarded the contract to operate the project by the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration Division in 2014.
The City provided Friends of Ruby with $1.15 million to help offset construction costs and will provide them with $1.2 million annually to assist with operating costs.
The facility, once an underutilized Toronto Community Housing Corporation building, was designed in consultation with LGBTQI2S youth and community partners.
The newly renovated space features mostly individual rooms, with a few rooms for couples, along with shared spaces to foster a sense of connection. It is fully accessible, energy-efficient, pet-friendly, and features a rooftop garden.
According to the City’s Street Needs Assessment conducted in 2018, one in four youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQI2S.
This new facility will provide much needed transitional housing to help vulnerable youth exit homelessness. The facility was brought to life with the support of the Daniels Corporation.
The innovative design created by Yabu Pushelberg (interiors) and Sustainable grew from a
comprehensive consultation process with LGBTQI2S youth from the community, whose thoughts and feedback was incorporated into the final building.
The Friends of Ruby facility will have staggered move-ins throughout December and January. NTo learn more about Friends of Ruby, visit https://www.friendsofruby.ca/.
Mayor John Tory said: “I am pleased that our city has forged a partnership with Friends of Ruby to establish a transitional home for LGBTQI2S youth who are facing homelessness.
Vulnerable youth and especially those who identify as LGBTQI2S are in need of a place where they feel welcome and are able to receive the help they need.
By providing a service like this, we can help break the cycle of homelessness for these youth and ensure that they are on a path towards independence and housing stability.”