The Region of Waterloo says it has listened to unsheltered people in the community and is ready to open a new emergency shelter to support all gender identities, couples, and pets.
Starting this Friday the new emergency shelter will operate in the former Edith MacIntosh Child Care Centre located at 104 Stirling Avenue South in Kitchener.
Operated by The Working Centre, this location will provide overnight shelter for up to 60 individuals from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., seven days a week.
The news comes as the region prepares to remove people in a homeless encampment on region-owned land at the corner of Weber and Victoria streets in Kitchener on June 30.
“Listening and responding to the needs of those experiencing homelessness is vital,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman in a press release.
“This new emergency shelter will support all gender identities, couples, and those with pets, keeping individuals together with their loved ones and connecting them with the supports they need.
"While we have more work to do, this new shelter is a step in the right direction.”
A recent story in CambridgeToday explained the difficulty many people experience in choosing between going into the shelter system or continuing to live on the streets.
It's estimated one in three unsheltered individuals in Waterloo region have a pet, mainly dogs, which prior to now were unwelcome in any of the established shelters unless they were a registered service animal.
An option given to many is to board their animals at the Humane Society until the person or family can find adequate housing.
For the last 40 years, The Working Centre has provided support to those experiencing unemployment and poverty in Waterloo Region.
“The Edith MacIntosh site will provide vital access to much-needed emergency shelter and supports,” said Stephanie Mancini of The Working Centre, in the release.
“We have been grateful to St. Andrew's Church for providing shelter space through the winter, and we feel it is important to continue to provide shelter space through the summer. As we work to increase the number of supportive housing units, shelter spaces that are welcoming and safe form an important base of stability for people."
The Edith MacIntosh shelter opens as temporary emergency shelters at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the YW in Kitchener are to close near the end of this month.
“The number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region and across the country is unprecedented,” said regional Councillor Jim Erb in the release.
“The addition of this emergency shelter will increase access across the Region, however the system is still facing pressures and increased demand. I want to thank the YW, St. Andrew’s Church and The Working Centre for stepping up and serving our community when it needed it most and their continued support.”