Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo region gets $3.27M to end chronic homelessness

The Region of Waterloo's Housing First program to tackle chronic homelessness has received $3.27 million over the next three years.

'They have their own home. They have the ability then to go from there'

The region has receiving provincial money to expand its Housing First program to help people who find themselves in a cycle where regularly seek out emergency shelter. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The Housing First plan to end chronic homelessness in Waterloo region by 2025 has received $3.27 million over the next three years from the province.

Housing First is a program that helps get people into their own homes more quickly with support for rent and other services, including addictions and mental health.

It started as a pilot project to help those people who were seen in a regular basis in the emergency shelter system.

Deb Schlichter, the region's housing services director, said the new money from the province will mean they can roll the program out on a larger scale to help more people. The goal of 2025 is "bold" but doable, she said.

"If we've got the resources, and with this model and with this funding we think we're well on our way to reaching that goal," Schlichter said in an interview with CBC K-W.

"It doesn't mean people will never be homeless in the future. It just means when they come into an emergency shelter system, that they maybe land there only for, let's say, 30 days."

In that 30 days, the people get housing and connected with services "and they move out of the system very, very quickly," she said.

The funding from the province will be for three years.

Schlichter said the region will continue to get money after that, they just haven't been told how much.

She added the people who have been helped by Housing First have been able to get other services and find work.

"The people that have gone through this, who have been successfully housed, are telling their stories now about how important these programs are to them. They have their own home. They have the ability then to go from there and do other things," she said.

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