About YWS

A safe haven…
…to take steps to independence

“I was a teenager with a lot of issues. I was 17 years old, alone in a city I wasn’t familiar with and had no idea where to turn. At 18 after spending many nights in YWS and in some cases outstaying my welcome I turned my life around. At the age of 21 I entered college and then completed university. I am now 33 and a seasoned social worker. Thank you for all being there, for guiding me and for letting me know that I was able to accomplish more than what I believed I could. The work you guys do is incredible and you change more lives than you will ever know.”

– Nichole, 16 years later, 2009

Our Mission

Empowering youth facing homelessness to reach individual potential.


Ending homelessness…one youth at a time, one step at a time.


In 1986 a group of teachers and guidance counsellors created Youth without Shelter as they were frustrated with the lack of safe, emergency housing and support programs for their students. Since that time YWS has helped more than 15,000 homeless youth to build their confidence and life-skills and to find long-term stable housing and jobs. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we are dedicated to providing shelter and support programs in a safe environment, with the goal of getting youth off the streets permanently.

Strategic approach: Strength-­based (Resilience) Model of Care

Building upon a solid base of programs and services the strategic approach at YWS is to ensure that every youth has the support and encouragement to develop to his/her potential. All programs and operations are designed and conducted in a manner that is youth centric. A Strength-­based (Resilience) Model of Care is the foundation to the best possible successful future for the young people in our care.

Youth who come to YWS arrive with the label of “homeless” with all the negative connotations that comes along with it, consequently self­-esteem and confidence is low. The Strength-­based (Resilience) Model of Care focuses on young peoples’ strengths: building a safe community within our walls where talking, listening and sharing are productive; and giving youth the opportunities to develop the integral skills and confidence to navigate the world and overcome their challenges. Click here to hear about Youth Without Shelter’s approach to building resiliency in each youth.

Trauma Informed Care

“Everyone has the right to a future that is not dictated by their past.”

Youth Without Shelter provides trauma informed care as a core principle of operations. For service providers to become effective with individuals in their care, there has to be a “needs based” planning, not only at a client level but at a program and system level. Majority of the youth YWS serves have had to deal with overwhelming personal experiences that may have changed their perception about life. Our goal is to have a support system that will empower young people to succeed, and help them transition from a post-traumatic state to post-traumatic growth.

2019 – ­2024 YWS Strategic Plan

On Wednesday, June 5, 2019 YWS will launch a new Strategic Plan 2019-2024.  It is optimistic and innovative and we believe it reflects the spirit of the organization and those involved with it – never straying far from we know is our fundamental mission – to be there for youth who need us.  For details on the launch and to attend please contact:  communications@yws.on.ca or 416.748.0110 ext. 26.

Impact Report

To request a copy of our 2017-­18 Impact Report be mailed to you, e­-mail: communications@yws.on.ca.