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A homeless man sleeps in front of the head offices of some of Canada's major banks at the corner of King and Bay streets in Toronto in March. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))

Almost three-quarters of homeless young people in Toronto say they have been the victim of multiple crimes, a new survey suggests.

"Being homeless means constant exposure to dangerous people and places," said the report, Surviving Crime and Violence. It was released Monday.

While most criminal cases involve property, almost two-thirds of the people interviewed for the study said they have been the victim of a violent crime at least once.

And more than three-quarters said they had been victimized in the past year, says the 2009 survey of 244 homeless young people aged 16 to 25.

Young women were more likely to be victims than young men, especially of sex crimes. Young black women were more often assaulted sexually than young white women, and young lesbian and bisexual women were the most abused, the survey suggests.

That group is "perhaps the most victimized street youth population," authors Stephen Gaetz, Bill O'Grady and Kristy Buccieri wrote. Gaetz is an associate dean of education at York University, O'Grady is a sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Guelph, and Buccieri is a Phd student at York.

Younger homeless youths, aged 16 or 17, were more vulnerable than those over 20.

The authors said the criminal justice, shelter systems and people trying to help homeless youth are not able to address the problems.

They called on all levels of government to end youth homelessness, with a focus on prevention.