Guelph shelter asks landlords to help end homelessness
A shelter in Guelph is looking for a permanent housing solution for those facing homelessness.
Joey Young lived on the streets for over three years before he started using the supports offered at Stepping Stone, formally known as the Drop-In Centre.
"I guess I got ahead of myself, or behind myself, it's hard to say, until I just reached out for help through the Drop-In. And they were there for me."
Young is now being placed in supportive housing, but previously found it challenging to find a place to live.
"It comes with a label, you know. We're already stereotyped, it's hard. Because to try and get a space you have to sell yourself to the landlord."
Stepping Stone wants to help those experiencing homelessness through a new campaign called "A Home for the Holidays."
"What we're asking is for them to open their hearts and their doors for our clients," said Damian Weston, a housing locator for the organization.
The shelter is asking landlords in Guelph who have units available to offer up a space to those who are facing or at risk of homelessness.
"From rooms to rent, bachelor apartments, studio apartments, to larger multi-bedroom units," explained Weston. "We're hoping for 20."
Stepping Stone said it's not asking landlords to give a discount on rent. Instead, rent will be paid through direct deposit to ensure no month goes unpaid.
"We have housing support workers who will visit with the tenant to make sure they're set up for success," said Weston.
The campaign is part of Stepping Stone's larger goal of ending homelessness in Wellington County.
"Increasing housing stability for people that have been homeless for a long time, as well as increasing their health and wellbeing," said executive director Gail Hoekstra.
In the meantime, the shelter is doubling the number of its beds.
"We were noticing a slight increase in the demand for this space and we also knew winter was coming," said Hoekstra.
Young is grateful for Stepping Stone and credits them for helping him get his life back on track.
"It's just vitally important," he said. "I feel you need a place because it helps you feel better about yourself as an individual."
Young hopes landlords participate in the campaign so someone else in need can have a place to call home.