News / Toronto

HireUp helping homeless youth get hired across the country

New company based in Toronto connects homeless youth with potential employers across the country

A young homeless person is seen sleeping in front a Starbucks shop on Queen West.

Liz Beddall/ Metro

A young homeless person is seen sleeping in front a Starbucks shop on Queen West.

A new initiative is helping youth in Toronto go from homeless to hired.

HireUp launched late last year as a portal connecting employers across the country with youth who’ve experienced homelessness.

Steady employment is one of many ways to address housing problems, which are the main cause of homelessness, said Lesley McMillan, HireUp’s program manager.

“If there was enough housing in our cities, there would definitely be less homelessness,” she said.

HireUp has partnered with nearly 20 youth organizations to help homeless youth find work. In Toronto, the company collaborates with Covenant House Toronto and Eva’s Initiatives.

Companies such as Home Depot, Nordstrom and NEI Investments have signed up to offer entry-level jobs to homeless youth. Jobs could range from sales and retail to warehouse works and logistics.

McMillan said one of many challenges homeless youth – aged 16 to 24 – face while seeking employment is lack of education and experience.

“A lot of them haven’t even completed high school,” she said, adding that many haven’t held a job before.

Even if they have the skills, McMillan said homeless youth struggle with the stigma of having no fixed address.

“Especially in small cities, as soon as you put an address, someone may not get the job interview because that place is known for homelessness,” she said.

In addition to helping homeless youth find a job, McMillan said HireUp provides training and guidance to help them stay employed.