A crisis out of sight | Radio-Canada.ca

                                                              A snowy building.

In Rimouski, homelessness is mainly experienced behind closed doors.Photo: Radio-Canada / Francois Gagnon

From center to margin

Homelessness, Léa knows it all too well. As a child, she sometimes lived with her mother, sometimes with her father, who often found himself homeless. I became a little cries, I’m not ashamed to say. Over time, I developed problems with anorexia, drugs, self-harm… Let’s say I was freaking out. she says, letting out a small laugh.

Supported by the DYP in her early teens, she wandered from foster family to foster family, in addition to spending time in a youth centre. In secondary three, she dropped out of school and got a job as a janitor, which paid $20 an hour.

Léa was also supported by the Youth Qualification Program (PQJ) of the DYPwhich provided him with an allowance of $650 per month.

In addition to supporting young people financially, the PQJ aims to teach them some aspects of independent living, such as grocery shopping or paying bills.

With her job and her allowance, Léa had managed to find an apartment, in which she had moved when she was 17 years old. She was one of the lucky ones, since several landlords refuse to rent their homes to young people who have been under the responsibility of the DYP without their being endorsed, which the organization and very often their family cannot do.

Everything was going well, until things got out of hand.

Following a chaotic argument with acquaintances in her apartment, her landlord ordered her to leave her apartment last September. Léa found herself homeless, like many people she met during her childhood.

Almost everyone I’ve known at the center has experienced homelessness at some point. »

A quote from Leah

The young woman’s observation is well-founded: the break in service after leaving a rehabilitation center for young people with adjustment difficulties (CRJDA), which is familiarly known as a youth center, is identified as one of the the most important tipping points leading young people to the streets, can we read in the Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan 2015-2020. According to the data reported in the document, more than half of young people experiencing homelessness visible on the streets of Montreal come from these establishments.

The CREVAJ study (Goyette et al., 2019) shows that nearly a third of young people leaving CRJDAs would be in a situation of residential instability; 45% of young people who are stable would consider their situation precarious. Two to three years after their release from placement, nearly one in five young people would have experienced an episode of visible homelessness.

After a life spent in a very supervised environment, many of these young people are not able to manage a newly acquired freedom to reach the age of majority, which often comes with a sudden cessation of accompaniment by the workers. It’s when the shock of reality hits them that they’re most at risk of making bad choices. explains Mélissa Desjardins, director of youth protection and the youth program of the CISSS of Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Léa ended up being hosted by an acquaintance in a village about thirty minutes from Rimouski. This forced move, however, deprived her of many opportunities: without a driver’s license, she could no longer return to the adult courses she was taking in Rimouski in the hope of finishing high school or finding work.

In the meantime, she continued her search for an apartment. Over time, she came to realize that the seediest apartments were often the ones that didn’t require a credit check. However, even by lowering her standards, nothing worked, until a member of her spouse’s family decided to rent the small 2 ½ in her name for $600 in downtown Rimouski, where she now lives incognito.

It’s crazy, because my old apartment was a 4 ½ at $390 a month. In two years, prices have doubled.


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