14% rise in homeless guests reported by Out of the Cold

The Out of the Cold program in Kitchener-Waterloo says it has seen a 14% increase in the number of people using its services compared to last year.

Unemployment and lack of affordable housing and government assistance blamed

Kitchener-Waterloo’s Out of the Cold program says it served 14 per cent more homeless visitors this winter compared to last winter.

The program runs from November to the end of March, with food and shelter provided by several churches and community centres in the area.

Coby Kooistra, the coordinator for the Out of the Cold site at the Ray of Hope Community Centre, said many people have been forced to use the service because they have lost their jobs.

She added that more government aid and affordable housing would go a long way to help.

"We were just a band-aid for two or three years, we’re now at 15 years," said Kooistra. "I just believe that the government is shifting away from it."

Kooistra said on an average night, she and her staff serve between 230 and 250 meals and provide beds for up to 84 people.