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Region to offer information on open shelter concept coming to Cambridge

The Region of Waterloo is testing an open shelter concept in Waterloo as plans for a Cambridge location are in the works
Tents are set up in the parking lot of 150 Main St.

The Region of Waterloo is planning on opening a new shelter concept and the community is invited to share their thoughts. 

On Jan. 26 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the region is asking the community to come to the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex at 101 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo to learn about the concept and future plans for a Cambridge location. 

The location of the region's first new shelter is going to be set at a regionally owned property, 1001 Erb’s Rd. in Waterloo.

Chris McEvoy, manager of housing policy and homelessness prevention at the region said this location is central to both Kitchener and Waterloo and was the best option. 

The information session will let people know, how many residents it will be able to house, what exactly will be there and how it can be accessed. 

“It will also show some of the ways that The Working Centre and the region are working collaboratively to make sure that those with the greatest depth of need in our community are supported and offered spaces in that location,” said McEvoy. 

While McEvoy acknowledges that Cambridge residents are less likely to cross the 401 to access supports, he said a Cambridge location is in the works, pending success of the Waterloo trial. 

“Right now we're focused on getting the Erb’s Road site up and ready,” McEvoy said. “Depending on the success and nature of that we will once again, loop back to that list across Waterloo region and explore with the area municipality staff where we might want to go next.”

The region could not provide a list of potential locations for the Cambridge site, but that they will present them to city and regional staff for a  vote to determine the most viable site. 

The open shelter concept will be a hybrid of modular tiny homes and areas for tents. The site will be complete with full services such as: running water, electricity, plumbing and wrap around services. 

The region says the Waterloo location will be able to house around 50 individuals currently experiencing un-sheltered homelessness. McEvoy said these are meant for temporary housing and a middle point until affordable housing can be secured. 

“These are not homes,” he noted. “They are meant for them to secure things like Ontario Works or ODSP income, getting identification, because there are no landlords who will rent to somebody who doesn't have ID.” 

The way to solve the homelessness crisis is to house these individuals, said McEvoy. This is the next step to get people off the streets, out of camps and into homes. 

The information sessions about the open shelters are open to the public on Jan. 26 starting at 7 p.m at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex at 101 Father David Bauer Dr, Waterloo and virtually Jan. 31 starting at 7 p.m. 

More information on the sessions and the shelter can be found on the region’s website

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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