Introduction to Housing First for Youth

Rights-based Approach

Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) is a rights-based intervention.

As part of an overall strategy to address and end youth homelessness, HF4Y is grounded in a human rights framework. This means that all young people have the right to the essentials of life, including adequate housing, food, safety, education and justice. To achieve this goal, policies, laws, and strategies aimed at youth homelessness prevention must be grounded in human rights at all stages of development, implementation, and evaluation. 

According to the guide Youth Rights, Right Now (developed by Canada Without Poverty with A Way Home Canada, the COH and FEANTSA in 2016), the reality that youth homelessness exists in Canada, and that we allow young people to remain trapped in homelessness represents a denial of basic human rights.

As a rights-based intervention, HF4Y and other programs to prevent and end youth homelessness must shift from eligibility-based to rights-based.

The guide lists reasons why using international human rights is an effective strategy to prevent and end youth homelessness:

IT TARGETS SYSTEMIC CAUSES.

Instead of creating laws to punish those who are homeless, governments must address the systemic causes of homelessness, provide legal protections from discrimination and ensure access to adequate housing. 

IT’S A MORAL AND LEGAL OBLIGATION.

The elimination of homelessness is a legal obligation for countries that have signed on to human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and others.

IT’S EMPOWERING.

Rights allow youth, as rights holders, to bring forward concerns and feel respected and valued in their communities and in the decision-making process.

IT PUTS HOMELESS YOUTH FIRST.

A rights-based approach prioritizes those who are in the most desperate circumstances and addresses their needs on an urgent basis.

  • See the complete list developed by Canada Without Poverty & A Way Home Canada, 2016, p10.