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'The worst it’s ever been': Cambridge homeless shelter calling for more support

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A Cambridge homeless shelter is calling for support from the community after seeing a spike in those experiencing homelessness using their supports.

The Bridges – run by the Cambridge Shelter Corp. – is seeing a sharp increase in people experiencing homelessness in 2023.

“We’re seeing an increase, the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Sharon Livingstone, co-chair of the Cambridge Shelter Corp. “The number of older adults we are seeing who are being evicted often is because a partner dies or goes into long-term care, they no longer can afford the rent or they’re evicted and the reality is it’s also more difficult to rehouse people."

Support worker Joel Baker says the high costs of living is driving up the demand for social services across Waterloo region.

“With the amount of people, there could potentially be more services that the region could use,” he said.

The Bridges say the need community support now more than ever, as they look to serve over 70,000 meals this year. So far, they have served just over 35,000.

The organization is now asking for the public’s help to reach that goal.

“We’re about 75 per cent funded by the region and so we need money of course and we look to the community to help with that,” said Livingstone.

The most recent data from the Region of Waterloo estimates over 1,000 people are experiencing homelessness across the region, including hundreds of people living with chronic homelessness.

The region predicts:

  • 412 people are living rough
  • 335 people are experiencing hidden homelessness
  • 191 people are in emergency shelters
  • 84 people are in transitional housing
  • 63 people are in institutions (hospital, police custody, Women’s Crisis Services)

“Our problem is two-fold, we’ve had an increase in evictions and people being out on the streets for whatever reasons and sometimes folks have mental health and addiction issues which haven’t been treated and they prefer not to be in shelters or not to be inside our agency’s doors,” explained Livingstone.

Food and clothing donations can be dropped off at The Bridges or money can be donated directly on the Cambridge Shelter Corp’s website.

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