Statement from Premier Pillai and Minister McPhee on Poverty and Homelessness Action Week

Premier and Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation Ranj Pillai and Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee have issued the following statement:

“The Government of Yukon is committed to working with partners to end poverty and prevent homelessness in the territory. October 16 to 20 is Poverty and Homelessness Action Week in the Yukon, created to raise awareness and promote action to end poverty and homelessness. Since 2005, Poverty and Homelessness Action Week has drawn attention to these vital community concerns and inspired a wide range of programs and activities sponsored by local community groups.

“This year Poverty and Homelessness Action Week activities are being organized around the theme ‘’What’s on the Line: Actions to End Poverty and Homelessness in the Yukon’. This focus draws our attention to the opportunity for Yukoners to consider what they can do to better understand and help end poverty and homelessness in the territory.

“In order to understand and address the challenges we face as a territory, it is important to first state the facts. As of July 21, 2023, there were 269 people on the By Name List experiencing homelessness in Whitehorse, 34 of whom were children. Eighty per cent of those on the By Name List are experiencing chronic homelessness. The majority of those experiencing homelessness are in temporary shelters such as couch surfing, shelters, hotels and motels, public institutions like corrections and treatment centres or are in transitional housing.

“We must and continue to support all Yukoners who are experiencing poverty, Yukoners who are unhoused and Yukoners facing food insecurity. While we are working collectively to prevent these harsh realities, poverty and homelessness have the potential to affect anyone. No one is immune. This week is a good time to remind ourselves that these issues could affect you, a family member, a friend or a neighbour and most importantly, that support is available.

“Our government is working diligently to increase access to housing and support services to Yukoners. Our Housing First program is a best-practice approach to ending homelessness that centres on moving people who are experiencing homelessness into independent, permanent housing, staffed with 24/7 support.  There are 57 supportive housing units available in Whitehorse operating under Housing First principles. A new Housing First complex is being built in Watson Lake to help up to 12 people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness.

“Our government is also committed to ending and preventing homelessness through community collaboration initiatives such as the Housing Action Plan for Yukon, Safe at Home: A Community-Based Action Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness and the federal Yukon Reaching Home program.

“There are immediate housing options available to unhoused Yukoners in Whitehorse, this includes 405 Alexander Street, Kaushee’s Place and Skookum Jim Friendship Centre’s Youth Emergency Shelter. The Government of Yukon provides funding to support shelters in Yukon communities, including Help and Hope for Families in Watson Lake, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Jëje Zho in Dawson City and the Dawson Women’s Shelter. We continue to support the development of an Indigenous women’s shelter in the Yukon led by the Council of Yukon First Nations.

“In the Yukon, there are 101 shelter beds available, 19 units for second-stage housing for women and their children fleeing violence, 57 supportive housing units available in Whitehorse operating under Housing First principles, 31 approved caregiver homes for adults with disabilities and 41 supportive housing beds available in Whitehorse for those with disabilities.

“We are an active participant in multiple initiatives aimed at ending and preventing homelessness, including the Housing Action Plan Implementation Committee, the Housing and Homelessness Taskforce and the Reaching Home Community Advisory Board. We also continue to work in partnership with Yukon First Nations, other governments and the non-government sector to address homelessness in the territory and help people access the services they need. Community Outreach Services provides Intensive Case Management services to individuals experiencing housing instability, marginalization and challenging life situations and transitions.

“We are dedicated to working collaboratively to provide responsible and innovative solutions to diverse housing needs and vulnerabilities. This is why the Yukon Housing Corporation and the Department of Health and Social Services have joined forces to provide the support our clients need to have tenancies that are successful.

“Thank you to our many involved community partners including the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition and Safe at Home Society for your unwavering commitment and continued efforts to end and prevent poverty and homelessness in the territory and for the crucial work you do every day.

“We encourage all Yukoners to participate in the wide variety of programming offered by community organizations throughout the week and learn more about our community’s inspiring work to end and prevent poverty and homelessness in the territory.”

Media contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

Mairi Macrae
Communications, Health and Social Services

Julie Ménard
Communications, Yukon Housing Corporation

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