House of Friendship is set to open its innovative new ShelterCare facility in Waterloo later this month, where 100 men will receive 24/7 care and onsite health and housing supports.
“We’re thrilled to be able to provide this new approach to emergency shelter in Waterloo Region, as one more piece of the puzzle to address the rising homelessness crisis in our community,” said Executive Director John Neufeld. “By providing onsite support with trusted community partners, we are helping address many of the complex needs of those experiencing homelessness. Individuals in our program will get the help and tools they need to become healthier and housed.”
ShelterCare is truly a Waterloo Region innovation, one that is being closely watched by other shelter providers throughout the province – and has only come to life because of the incredible support from multiple levels of government.
Funding for the ShelterCare program includes an $8.5 million investment from the Province of Ontario to help purchase the former hotel, renovation financing support through Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, $1.6 million from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions through the Roadmap to Wellness, and $3.7 million in annual operating support from the Region of Waterloo, including $570,000 in annual capital financing support.
The City of Waterloo has also provided ready support and guidance along the way to aid with the building of this new facility, as well as helping House of Friendship build connections with the neighbouring community.
“We are incredibly grateful to all levels of government for their significant investment in ShelterCare – for helping to find creative, new ways of supporting those experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region,” said Neufeld. “We know that this, along with the dedicated work of community partners who also work in this space, will go a long way towards helping fight homelessness as we walk together alongside individuals on the road to recovery.”
“Our government is proud to work with House of Friendship to support the opening of the new ShelterCare facility in Waterloo,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Ontario’s Minister of Health. “This new facility will provide more convenient access to support systems on the road to recovery for those experiencing homelessness in the Waterloo region.”
“The grand opening House of Friendship’s ShelterCare facility represents a commitment to providing much-needed services, wrap-around care and a safe place to stay for the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Mike Harris, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga. “It was a priority for our government to ensure the great team at House of Friendship received the support they needed to bring this project to completion. It will save lives and help a lot of people.”
“The new House of Friendship facility is a key part of our community’s approach to homelessness,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “We remain committed to working with community partners to deliver on our long-term investments in affordable housing.”
“Safe shelter spaces play a critically important role in addressing homelessness. With the opening of this facility, more people in Waterloo can access the basic needs of food and shelter, along with the support they need to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Waterloo Mayor Dorothy McCabe.
The building includes 13 fully accessible rooms on the main floor, a dedicated intake space for participants to meet with shelter staff as they arrive, an onsite medical clinic and healthcare spaces, a kitchen and dining room, a housing hub, and space set aside for community partners to provide a variety of services and supports for shelter participants. Gathering areas within the building will also provide areas of connection for participants, helping to build a sense of community – a key factor in supporting those with mental health and addiction challenges.
“A great deal of care and attention to detail has gone into the design of this facility, with extensive input from staff, community partners and shelter participants,” said Neufeld. “This building will provide far more than shelter, with its ultimate goal to help individuals in our program get healthy enough to become housed and exit the cycle of homelessness for good.”
The new facility will open later this month, starting with 26 participants who are currently supported through House of Friendship’s shelter program in downtown Kitchener. New participants will enter the program through a phased-in approach, in coordination with the Region of Waterloo’s Emergency Shelter network, with a goal of serving 100 men at this location.
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