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Report calls for new integrated action plan to address youth homelessness

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A new report calls for a succinct and integrated action plan to prevent youth homelessness in Newfoundland and Labrador."Towards a Solution" was released Monday by the advocacy and outreach group Choices for Youth and a range of partners.Executive director Sheldon Pollett said a much more integrated system focusing on young people aged 16 to 24 is needed. Ideally, it would include one-stop centres where the province's most vulnerable kids could get help for addiction, mental health issues, income support, education and housing."Last year we served over 1,000 young people," Pollett said of the St. John's-based Choices for Youth."This is not a large city, but yet we have a growing number of young people either homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. So the stakes are pretty high."Pollett said teens in foster care and other support systems too often wind up on their own as young as 16."We cannot simply take an adult approach and apply it to youth," he told a packed forum at St. John's city hall attended by politicians of every stripe."It's a travesty, and it cannot continue."Pollett said the report is part of a growing movement across Canada to better deal with complex addiction, mental health and housing issues.The province can make the choice now for a better approach that will prevent harm and higher costs down the road, he told the forum."We need solutions that are reflective of the lives of young people," he said. "Nobody enjoys being homeless."

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