Advocate wants more affordable housing for youth

A youth advocate in St. John's says there's a chronic problem finding affordable housing for young people living on their own, and says a recent news story should draw attention to the problem.

A youth advocate in St. John's says there's a chronic problem finding affordable housing for young people living on their own, and says a recent news story should draw attention to the problem.

Angela Crockwell said she wasn't surprised to discover that a 16-year-old boy charged with manslaughter and arson was staying in a rooming house. She said she hopes his living situation highlights the need for more affordable housing options in St. John's.

Charges against the teen were laid after a house fire on Springdale Street in St. John's claimed the life of a 54-year-old man.

Crockwell, who is with the Community Youth Network, told CBC News the problem of youth finding appropriate housing in St. John's is widespread.

"Unfortunately we have lots of 16-year-olds who are not able to live with their families and it could be for a variety of reasons … so then they seek financial support and are considered living on their own at the age of 16 and are often in bedsitters or other types of substandard housing," said Crockwell.

Crockwell said a lot of the substandard housing options are not only inappropriate for youth, but are often unsafe. She said the only solution is for the province to address the problem and make more affordable housing available in St. John's.

"Our housing market is pretty poor right now, we don't have a lot of available options. So therefore, young people are forced to live in poor living conditions, substandard housing, in boarding houses, which is really not an appropriate housing option for a 16 or 17-year old," Crockwell told CBC News.

The Department of Child Youth and Family Services told CBC News there are currently 291 youth in the province who receive financial support to live on their own.

The teen was charged with manslaughter, three charges of arson-property damage, three charges of arson-disregard for human life, and seven charges of breaches of court order