Riely Castel will no longer have to couch-surf once he finally gets a key to his own place next week.
“I was living at home with my parents until 2013 when my mother passed, and that’s when my family sort of broke up, and I’ve been couch-surfing since then,” Castel said, after the Selinger government announced it had invested $1.5 million to provide housing for at-risk youth at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre on Thursday.
“I knew what that (living at home) felt like and I’ve been missing that feeling ever since.”
Thanks to the government funding, Castel will move into a unit operated by Ma Mawi Chi Itata with three other youth in similar situations and a mentor.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” said Castel, 19, who had temporarily moved into the Pan Am Boxing Club’s home for at-risk youth.
“When you’re couch-surfing, it’s almost impossible to get to school every day,” said Community Education Development Association program executive director Darlene Klyne. “If you can’t get to school, if you can’t graduate, that often means a future that is not only uncertain for yourself but for your future family.”
The money will also fund 12 new safe units for the Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY) for its emergency shelter and transitional program, upping the total to 25.
“I feel great confidence that, with this investment of $1.5 million and this development of homes, safe suites, transitional opportunities that we’re starting to build this continuum to address youth homelessness,” Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said. “It’s really about launching the future for these young people.
“We know the best way out of poverty is a good education and employment, and what we’re doing today is providing that stability through housing.”
But the initiative means more than just housing, Klyne said.
“It provides a home for these young people that we love, a home where someone’s going to greet them at the end of the day, a home where someone is going to ask them how their day was, a home someone’s going to support them and who’s going to love them,” she said.
“This project will provide affordable housing, but also long-term benefits such as stable housing for more youth, increased numbers of youth accessing community and family supports, improved education outcomes and increased opportunities for employment for these Manitobans,” said Kerri Scott, RaY housing co-ordinator.