A Calgary homeless group hopes to lower the average stay for youth dramatically in seven years time.

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Tim Richter, president of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, begins a countdown to 2018 when it aims to reduce youth homelessness dramatically. ((CBC))

The Calgary Homeless Foundation, along with 21 local organizations, launched the citywide plan Friday that aims to reduce by January 2018 the stay in an emergency shelter to less than seven days for a young person.  

After that, the youth will be moved into a safe and affordable home to live.

The plan, unveiled in Calgary includes:

  • Increasing the coordination and collaboration among agencies and organizations working with youth experiencing homelessness;
  • Providing adequate housing for youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness; and
  • Gaining a better understanding of youth homelessness and influencing government policies needed to end youth homelessness.

"Our commitment with this youth plan is to take down the boards for our young people so that they never enter the experience of homelessness," said Tim Richter, president and CEO, at the Calgary Homeless Foundation. "If they do, they can more quickly experience safe, decent, stable, and affordable housing with the support needed to sustain it.

Richter says as many as 2,000 young people up to 24 years of age don't have a home in Calgary. But he adds it is likely these numbers are low because youth homelessness is often hidden, with people finding temporary accommodations on people's couches or by sleeping outside.

And some who have already lived on the streets praised the initiative.

"I was homeless for a couple of years — living on the streets and on my friends' couches, not knowing where and when my next meal was going to come from," said Sven Frohasdorf. "Now I have a safe place to call home and the chance to go to work every day. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."