House of Friendship held an official grand opening celebration of its new ShelterCare facility in Waterloo, Ont., on Jan. 19. This renovated former hotel will provide shelter and other supports for 100 men experiencing chronic homelessness, including onsite health care and staffing 24/7. House of Friendship has been operating a smaller shelter program in downtown Kitchener for more than 80 years.
Called ShelterCare, this new model for dealing with homelessness is being watched by other shelter providers in the province. Major funding has come from the Province of Ontario to help buy the property and from the Ontario Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The Region of Waterloo has also contributed significant capital financing on top of annual operating support.
“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 John Neufeld, executive director of House of Friendship. “By providing onsite support with trusted community partners, we are helping address many of the complex needs of those experiencing homelessness.”
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.
The new facility will begin with 26 participants who have been 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.