Waterloo Region’s emergency shelter system was strained even before the weather turned cold – and now having more people seeking shelter than available beds in shelters is a nightly occurrence.

“We’ve been full pretty much (since) summer, and now we are having even more people come in here,” says Ron Flaming, the housing services director at House of Friendship.

The region has about 250 beds for emergency shelter. Once all of those beds are spoken for, people seeking shelter are put up in motels. Flaming says that’s been happening every night for the past month or so, often for as many as 60 people.

Nobody seems to know what’s behind the increase. One possibility – something Flaming says more than a few shelter clients have brought up – is houses being sold and then seeing their rents increased significantly, forcing tenants out.