House of Friendship seeking permanent housing solution
WATERLOO -- The House of Friendship is offering temporary transitional housing at its former shelter location on Charles St. in Kitchener starting later this month. It will be an interim solution for 25 men and won't accept drop-ins.
They've been running a shelter at a hotel in Guelph but that lease ends on Nov. 30, leaving around 70 men who need a new place to stay. They had previously been at the Inn of Waterloo but had to leave after a fire in February.
"These are all temporary measures until we get there and also to deal with usually the higher numbers during this time," said John Neufeld, Executive Director of the House of Friendship. "We need multiple solutions. This is one of them for 25 [men]. But together with the Region of Waterloo, we're continuing to plan others with the shelter system partners as well."
Staff will choose the people best suited for the short-term, referral-based accommodation.
Neufeld said more places for the remaining men in Guelph will be announced by the end of next week and will address the issue of "drop-ins.”
Nick Young has been living in shelters for the past three years and has been at the Guelph hotel since the House of Friendship made the move. The 43-year-old said the pandemic halted much of the work he could do and the services he could access, but it also forced some essential help to be closer.
"The amount of resources that we have available here is just mind boggling," he said. "It's amazing. If it were more structured and more permanent, I think it would be a fantastic resource for a lot of people."
Young said by having access to housing he could start focusing on finding work and moving forward with his life.
"I have children. I have a 10-year-old son, I have a five-year-old daughter. I want to have them visit me and I can't do that here.”
A "point-in-time" account done in 2018 showed 333 people experiencing some form of homelessness in Waterloo Region. The 2021 survey completed in September now shows 1,085 people.
Neufeld hopes to have a permanent location to help reduce homelessness in the region. He believes offering different services at one site is key.
"One of the analogies I’ve used is, if we built a cancer centre and we welcome people in that were struggling with cancer, but we only gave them a bed and a meal and we didn't offer chemo or radiation, we would never be okay with that. But that's how we address homelessness," he said.