The Coldest Night of the Year fundraising event in Kitchener saw over 700 people out to raise money and awareness for issues those experiencing homelessness are facing.

The walking fundraiser was held Saturday evening for Ray of Hope, which supports vulnerable and homeless people in Waterloo region, and raised more than $200,000.

"We help youth who experience addictions, mental health problems, youth who are in trouble with the law, and then our community centre program helps those experiencing homelessness and poverty," one Ray of Hope worker tells CTV News.

The funds will go to meal and hamper programs, counselling programs, and time shelter programs.

"I'm concerned about people out there when it's cold and freezing and they don't have enough to eat," one attendee said on why they were participating.

The event comes after the Region of Waterloo committed $163 million from its 2023 budget into housing and homelessness strategies on Wednesday.

The increase is thanks in part to funding from the province which likely won't be available next year. The region says the $7.5 million from the province will need to be replaced in 2024 by additional levy funding programs that are on the 2023 budget.

"Every bit helps," said the Ray of Hope. "Money is great, but there can always be more."

According to a Region of Waterloo count from 2021, a total of 1,085 are experiencing homelessness.

"Numbers have been rising in the last little while," said the Ray of Hope. "Especially in our food programs."