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Waterloo Region needs more shelter space to meet the needs of the community, says support group


There are too many people living on the streets and not enough shelter beds in Waterloo Region.

The number of available spots has increased over the past year, but it’s been compared to bailing out a sinking ship. The region and shelter groups can’t create enough shelter space for those desperately needing somewhere stay.

CTV News spoke to several people at the House of Friendship in Waterloo who are, or have, experienced homelessness.

“I ended up here because I lost my brother, who was my roommate, and I couldn’t afford to pay rent anymore,” said Frederick Meunier. “I actually did live in a tent for a whole year and even spent a winter there.”

He’s thankful to have a place to stay now.

“When I found this place, that gave me hope because I almost lost… I wasn’t asking for help anymore,” Meunier explained. “It was rough for like two year, you know, on the streets. It takes a toll on your sometimes.”

Another resident at the House of Friendship, Timothy Kihato Kamita from Kenya, said he can’t afford a place to stay.

“Maybe you have a little money to stay in a hotel, and then you Google hotels and you find the prices are so high,” he said.

Kamita has only been in the country for three months and was facing the prospect of spending his first Canadian winter outside.

“I was scared,” he admitted. “When my money runs out, how will I survive on the streets?”

Now that Kamita has sorted out his work permit, he hopes to be out on his own soon.

“For me, I give myself one to two months tops, if I can get a full-time job,”

Many others are not so lucky.

“We can count at least 150 to 200 people who are camping in the Kitchener-Waterloo area,” said Joe Mancini, the executive director at The Working Centre.

Since last year, the Region of Waterloo and The Working Centre have helped to open 230 shelter beds.

Mancini said it’s still not enough.

“If you do lose an apartment, then you are frozen out of the market unless you can get social housing,” he said.

The problem is people are ending up on the streets faster than they can create shelters.

“The fact is people are losing housing even as we create these shelter spaces, but the issue is growing quicker,” Mancini explained.

That means this winter will still be a tough one for many. Top Stories

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