YouthLink facility, with 10 crisis and 41 long-term beds, to have a dog kennel. Evan Back stands in a storage space in a building that will before long be a homeless shelter for young people in Scarborough.

Back focuses on racks containing sofa-beds, pillows, sheets, and pillowcases. Then he gestures to shelves containing sweatshirts, socks, underwear, and sleeping bags. The room holds much of the bedding and linen that the young people in the building will need.

“We need products of everything,” he says.

In adjacent rooms, construction teams are fixing walls and floors. In the meantime, a Scarborough MPP is going to working for a quick tour. It’s a busy place and it’s only going to get busier.

“What we have done is we have created this shelter. Part of it is an emergency shelter, for those kids who are on the street and need a place to go, and part of it is a transition home,” Back, head of fundraising and marketing for YouthLink, told CBC Toronto.

The YouthLink Youth Transition Home and Emergency Shelter, housed in a solitary story working under renovation at 747 Warden Ave., north of St. Clair Avenue East, is slated to open on March 15. It’s for people aged 16 to 24.

It will have 10 emergency shelter beds and 41 change long-term beds. It will be a co-ed office with rooms for couples. YouthLink, a registered charity, is a youth mental health agency in Toronto.

When it opens, the facility will contain Scarborough’s solitary youth homeless emergency shelter. What’s more, it will be one of a kind in that it will be the main Toronto youth cover with a puppy pet hotel, with a dog kennel, with space for at least six dogs.

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That means young people on the street can bring their dogs from the cold.

“It’s not only a shelter. It’s a mix of shelter and transition home.”

Some Ontario shelters are pet-friendly, yet those facilities are not for youngsters, Back said.


to get help, dogs to go into the kennel

“We’ve all observed a wide range of youngsters. They spread a sleeping bed in the city and they’re staying there, and some of the time they’re a couple, and they generally have hounds. Regularly those canines are the main sidekicks that these youngsters have on this planet.

And they will not come in out of the cold, or they will not come in for help, and leave their dog alone,” Back said.

“We’ve made a circumstance where they can come in, carry their dog with them, and the dog will go into a kennel. Also, the children can come and get the assistance that they need. IIf they decide to move to the transition side, then what happens is, there’ll be a cage put in their room and the kids and dogs can all sleep in the same room.”

Over 1,000 youth believed homeless in Scarborough

It’s evaluated that there are increasingly 1,000 homeless youngsters in Scarborough. “There is a lineup as of now,” he said. “In Scarborough, we’re the only game in town. We should build three of these.”

Back said the building, owned by YouthLink, was at one time a mechanic’s shop. It is a maze, with the shelter side connected with the change side through a progression of hallways. An outdoor courtyard is amidst the building.

The shelter will contain an intake room, a “debugging” room where things will be sprayed to kill bugs, showers, a pantry, lounge, library, and three kitchens. No drugs will be allowed on the premises.

Renovations, being paid for by the city, are costing $1.5 million. The kennel itself costs $50,000. Back has raised $30,000 for the kennel however is $20,000 short. There is no funding for dog food, vet bills, and feminine hygiene products. Back has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the kennel.

“We just need to open our ways to any youngster who is in a bad position who needs assistance and who is ready to do the work to get better.”

MPP Aris Babikian, who speaks to Scarborough-Agincourt for the Progressive Conservatives, said amid his visit that the shelter will make a difference.

“It is amazing and there is a requirement for it. I’m happy that at least there is a center where the youth can go and seek help,” he said.

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Babikian told Back: “I’m sure down the road we will work together. I will try to help you as much I can. Our government is committed to mental health issues and the youth portion is very important.”

YouthLink was originally the Big Sisters of Metropolitan Toronto.

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