The Journey to ShelterCare

The journey to seeing our vision for ShelterCare come to life in Waterloo Region has included some important milestones so far that we’ve captured here, in reverse chronological order. As part of the Region of Waterloo Emergency Shelter System and in collaboration with community and service partners, men experiencing chronic homelessness and acute health concerns will find the supports they need here to become healthier and housed.

Feb. 2023 - ShelterCare is Operational!

The new ShelterCare facility became operational in February 2023.

With the move, existing House of Friendship shelter participants moved into our new facility, with a plan to build up to 100 individuals over the weeks ahead, working in partnership with the Region of Waterloo.

Here, individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and acute primary, addiction and mental health concerns will receive 24/7 care and support, with onsite services that will help them get healthier and housed so they can exit the cycle of homelessness for good.

Jan. 2023 - Grand Opening Celebration

On Thursday, Jan. 19, we held our official grand opening celebration for our new ShelterCare facility in Waterloo! It was a moment for great celebration – knowing that this new building will provide more than shelter for 100 men experiencing chronic homelessness.

Dec. 2022 - Province of Ontario Provides $1.6 Million Towards ShelterCare

As part of its Roadmap to Wellness plan, the Province of Ontario committed $1.6 million towards mental health and addictions on-site supports through ShelterCare.   

Spring 2022 - Renovations Begin

Now having a location, extensive renovations were required to turn this former hotel into a dignified location that could support the ShelterCare model.  Along with creating accessible bedrooms on the main floor, renovations added common spaces to build connection and community, and health-care and meeting spaces for community partners to provide services.

 All of this was required to ensure this facility was designed to meet the needs of those it will serve, to allow for the best possible long-term outcomes.

None of this work would have been possible without renovation financing support from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the ready support and guidance from the City of Waterloo.

Thanks to WalterFedy who provided valuable project design and engineering support and general contractor Nith Valley Construction for their hard work and attention to detail throughout the project.

January 2022 - $8.5 Million Announced To Help Purchase a Location for ShelterCare

Embracing the vision for ShelterCare, the Province of Ontario committed $8.5 million in capital funding to House of Friendship to help us purchase the former Comfort Inn at 190 Weber St. N in Waterloo as our new shelter location.

In addition, House of Friendship also received vital mortgage financing support of $570,000 annually from the Region of Waterloo, on top of $3 million in annual operating support as part of the Region’s Emergency Shelter Network.

Having a location to continue to offer our emergency shelter services was welcome news after having to move our shelter four times during the pandemic to keep both staff and participants safe during COVID-19 as well as increasing our numbers to serve over 100 men, and announcing a temporary program closure in November 2021 because we no longer had a suitable location to operate from.

March 2020 - The Silver Lining to the Pandemic Upheaval

With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic came tremendous change for our shelter program. Shelter staff rapidly moved participants overnight from our cramped, aging shelter to the Radisson hotel, to keep them safe. This is where the ShelterCare program was first piloted, with support from partner members of the Inner City Health Alliance.

By providing health care and other services on site, along with 24/7 care and support, shelter participants were able to get healthier and housed – highlighting just how effective this model would prove to be.

October 2019 - The Dream for ShelterCare was Launched

At House of Friendship’s Annual Friendship Dinner in 2019, we launched the vision for ShelterCare in Waterloo Region, and invited community members to help make the dream of ShelterCare a reality.