Vulnerable youth in need of a safe place to stay can now access 24/7 overnight accommodation services at a new Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) in Maple Ridge.
The Maple Ridge YES is a pilot project to provide supports to youth aged 15 to 18 who are in crisis, or at risk of harm or homelessness. Services will grow in 2024 to include outreach and day-programming resources that connect youth to longer-term supports and safe and stable housing within their community.
“We know that youth who have nowhere to go during times of need are at increased risk of substance use, exploitation and homelessness,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “The Youth Emergency Shelter means these youth have somewhere to feel safe and secure when they have no alternative.”
A result of a partnership between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services (STLEO), the YES pilot will help young people address issues such as family conflict, housing instability, homelessness, and mental health and substance use.
“We are pleased to be able to extend our supports for youth in the Maple Ridge community through this innovative pilot,” said Renata Aebi, executive director of STLEO. “Our goal is to be a safe space that meets the urgent needs of struggling youth and connect them to appropriate supports.”
The pilot will provide services that community members have advocated for since the closure of a federally funded youth facility in 2017.
“In partnership with our local MLAs, city council has been advocating for this Youth Emergency Shelter pilot project over the past year, and it’s exciting to see it come to fruition,” said Dan Ruimy, mayor of Maple Ridge. “This will help youth access a continuum of care and offers a new approach to break the cycle of homelessness. It’s an important innovation of service delivery in our community and offers at-risk youth the immediate support they might need.”
Beds are available on a self-referred basis for up to two weeks at a time. Youth do not need to have previous experience with government care or the ministry to access services.
Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows –
“This is such an important service for youth in our communities and across the province. Protecting our most vulnerable youth with a safe emergency shelter when they need it most has been a top priority, and I am so grateful to see this realized.”
Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission –
“MLA Lisa Beare and I, along with many people in the community, advocated for a Youth Emergency Shelter to give children and youth in need a safe place to go. We are so pleased that Maple Ridge was chosen to pilot this work.”
Alicia Erenli, manager of Foundry Ridge Meadows & Youth Housing Program –
“We’re thrilled to welcome St. Leonard’s and this much-needed resource to our community. We hear stories daily from our young people and see the impacts that show exactly why this pilot project is needed and necessary in our Ridge Meadows community.”
Braydon C., member of Provincial Director of Child Welfare’s Youth Advisory Council –
“Community is all about supporting one another and feeling like you have a place to go when you need it. With the YES pilot program launching in Maple Ridge, the community only grows stronger with this addition and YES will provide more options to vulnerable youth in crisis. With 24/7 access, youth in Maple Ridge will be able to access support when it’s needed, while allowing for additional connection to community resources.”
Dalila N., member of Provincial Director of Child Welfare’s Youth Advisory Council –
"I’m very happy to see that youth services have expanded, both in terms of accommodation and outreach being available with a low-barrier entry, but also that it is reaching youth in need who are outside of the immediate Vancouver area. Youth won't need to leave their communities to receive support, which helps reduce the impacts of isolation and stress in what is already a precarious situation."
- To learn more about St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services, which has been providing a range of supports to communities across the Lower Mainland since 1967, visit https://www.stleo.ca/