- City of Kitchener By-Law Enforcement: 519-741-2345
- Region of Waterloo Service First Call Centre: 519-575-4400
- Unsheltered homelessness, emergency shelters or affordable housing - Region of Waterloo Service First Call Centre: 519-575-4400
- Tents on City property: City of Kitchener By-Law Enforcement: 519-741-2345
- Criminal Behaviour and Emergencies - If you see any behaviour on-site or near the shelter that involves active criminal behaviour (e.g. violence, fire, theft, weapon present, indecency, property damage, etc.) or constitutes a medical emergency (such as a suspected overdose), please call 9-1-1 and ask for immediate assistance.
- Well-being or Non-Criminal Behaviour - If you are concerned about someone’s well-being or behaviour, but do not think it’s an active emergency, you may call Waterloo Regional Police at their non-emergency number to request support: 519-570-9777 or report online at https://www.wrps.on.ca/en/services-reporting/online-reporting-.aspx.
- Debris and Garbage – If the debris/garbage is found on city-owned property, please report online https://form.kitchener.ca/CSD/CCS/Report-a-problem or call 519-741-2345
- Needles – If you find a needle, please call Region of Waterloo – 519-575-4400
- Noise – Please call Waterloo Regional Police at their non-emergency number to request By-law Enforcement at 519-570-9777.
- Aggressive panhandling – Please call Waterloo Regional Police at their non-emergency number to request support 519-570-9777
- Expanding the Transitional Housing Program;
- Expanding the Home-Based Support Program;
- Expanding the Emergency Shelter Program; and
- Permitting a temporary managed Hybrid Shelter/Outdoor Model.
- Questions can be submitted via the Q&A section on this site – www.engagewr.ca/king-street-shelter
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 519-575-4400, ext. 5008
- Inadequate social assistance rates
- Housing affordability crisis
- Rental vacancies crisis
- Increasingly complex needs of individuals – severe mental health, physical health, substance use disorders
- COVID-19 pandemic impacts on employment, access to health care and mental health care, housing affordability
- Systemic oppression impacting those identifying as African, Black, Indigenous and racialized.
- 508 people transitioned from homelessness into permanent housing
- 190 households were supported to stay in their homes with rent arrears funding
- 358 households were supported to secure new homes with rent assistance
- 2,626 households avoided a shelter stay with support to access housing options through prevention and diversion
- Maintained an end to chronic family homelessness.
Is the Region opening a new emergency shelter?
In response to the urgent need in the community, the Region of Waterloo is opening an emergency shelter for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness at 1668 King Street East, Kitchener.
Why is the Region doing this?
The number of individuals currently experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region is unprecedented. Similar to many communities across Canada, we are seeing the effects of poverty, mental health issues, rising housing costs and impacts of the opioid crisis, first-hand in Waterloo Region. There is an urgent need for shelter spaces in the community.
Who will be using this shelter?
In response to feedback from individuals with lived experience, the King Street Shelter will support all gender identities, couples, and pets.
Operated by The Working Centre, the King Street site will provide urgently needed shelter services. In phase one, it will provide services for up to 70 individuals from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., seven days a week for the first few months. In phase two, the plan is for the shelter to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with increased capacity for a period of 18 – 24 months, as part of the Region of Waterloo’s Interim Housing Solutions strategy.
The shelter will open on September 29, 2022 and will replace the shelter currently operating at 104 Stirling Avenue South, Kitchener in the former Edith MacIntosh Child Care Centre. The final night of operation at the Edith MacIntosh site will be September 28, 2022.
Why did the Region choose this location?
Consideration was made to the ability to activate the site quickly to provide an urgent response, the proximity to public transportation and the availability of support services. The site was identified by The Working Centre as an option and in collaboration with Region was agreed to be a viable site.
Who will be operating the shelter?
The shelter will be operated by The Working Centre. For 40 years, The Working Centre has provided support in the community by responding to issues of unemployment and poverty in Waterloo Region. The Working Centre is focused on building innovative and creative community solutions to respond to homelessness and lack of sheltering options in Waterloo Region and on understanding how shelter spaces can be welcomed into our community safely.
When will the shelter begin operating, how long will it operate, and what are the hours of operation?
The first night of operation will be September 29, 2022. In phase one, it will provide services for up to 70 individuals from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., seven days a week for the first few months. In phase two, the plan is for the shelter to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with increased capacity for a period of 18 – 24 months, as part of the Region of Waterloo’ s Interim Housing Solutions strategy.
What services will be provided at this location?
This facility will help ensure that people experiencing homelessness have access to safe, temporary overnight accommodations that support their basic needs while they are supported to find and transition to permanent housing.
During their stay, community members will be supported to develop an Individualized Housing Plan that will help them move forward on their journey towards permanent housing.
What will you do to keep the neighbourhood safe?
The Working Centre staff work with shelter residents to foster respect and care for the neighbourhood and the hosts of the shelter. The Working Centre will work proactively with neighbourhood residents and businesses to prevent and mitigate challenges between shelter participants and the neighbourhood. Security will be on-site to help and respond to incidents as required. Additionally, Waterloo Region Police Services are an active partner and will be contacted as needed to address serious occurrences and ensure neighbourhood safety is maintained.
Will there be structural modifications to ensure this is an appropriate space?
Fencing has been installed on either side of the King Street shelter as well as some minor renovations inside.
What will you do to prevent people from hanging around in Rockway Gardens or from setting up an encampment?
The Working Centre will be encouraging people to access other services when the shelter is closed during the day (closed from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.). Security will be on-site to address any needs and issues that emerge.
Region and City staff use a coordinated approach in responding to the needs and issues related to individuals living rough or experiencing homelessness. Enforcement will only occur after all reasonable support efforts have been attempted without success and with reasonable advance notice of the requirement to vacate a public space. In exceptional circumstances, however, more immediate intervention may be required to address public safety concerns. The City of Kitchener Parks By-law does not permit camping in public parks.
For concerns about unsheltered homelessness, tents, or encampments:
What should I do if I see behaviour that concerns me? Who should I call?
Where will individuals go during the day? How will you ensure that those using the shelter overnight do not loiter during the day?
Initially, as an overnight shelter, The Working Centre will be providing transportation supports for people to access other local community services when the shelter is closed during the day (closed from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.). Security will be on-site to help mitigate challenges and respond to incidents as required.
Will the shelter or Region staff clean up any needles discarded on or around the grounds?
The Working Centre staff will ensure that the site is clear of any sharps, needles, etc. Anyone finding a sharp or needle, can call the Region at 519-575-4400 for safe removal.
What community engagement has the Region done? How are you informing the community?
The King Street Shelter is one part of the Region’s new Interim Housing Solutions strategy approved by Region of Waterloo Council on August 18, 2022. The strategy addresses the challenging and complex issue of unsheltered homelessness using four key tools:
As part of the development of the Region’s new Interim Housing Solutions strategy, the Region consulted with those with lived experience of homelessness, service providers and community partners.
The Region’s Housing Team is working to notify local residents and businesses in the area. A video tour of the site will be available shortly after opening.
We recognize you may have questions or would like the opportunity to provide feedback. Please reach out to the Region of Waterloo Housing Services Team:
This will be the community’s initial opportunity to provide feedback. We will be conducting extensive public consultation as part of the development of the Homelessness Master Plan in early 2023. The Master Plan will guide the Region’s work to prevent and end homelessness with longer-term solutions.
What are the causes of homelessness?
Many communities in Ontario and across Canada have also been experiencing an increase in chronic homelessness. It is a complex issue and is due to many factors including:
Solutions to this crisis require additional supports from the Provincial and Federal Governments. As well, it needs a community-focused and led approach to include solutions that address the root causes of homelessness.
The Region continues to play a leadership role, working closely with the local municipalities and bringing together partners from various systems to work on this very complex issue.
This seems like such a challenging problem. Are you making any progress on solving homelessness?
While much more needs to be done, we did make significant progress in 2021:
Who can I contact if I have questions?
If you would like to speak to a member of the Region of Waterloo Housing team, please call 519-575-4400, ext. 5008 or email email@example.com.