Kitchener-Waterloo

As homelessness rises in the region, an emergency overnight seasonal shelter opens in Kitchener

An emergency overnight seasonal shelter that can serve up to 50 people has opened at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in downtown Kitchener.

Shelter opened on Sunday at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

A person sleeps in an empty storefront in downtown Kitchener. A new overnight seasonal shelter is opening at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kitchener to help people experiencing homelessness. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

An emergency overnight seasonal shelter that can serve up to 50 people has opened at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in downtown Kitchener, Ont. 

The shelter is a collaboration between the church, The Working Centre and the Region of Waterloo.

"There are no limitations as to who can come [to the shelter]," said Joe Mancini, who runs The Working Centre.

"It's really important to provide places for couples [and] women who don't want to be separated from the whole group. There's all kinds of reasons why people end up in these kinds of shelters."

Mancini said he expects a core group of 40 people will call the church home for the winter.

Volunteers needed

An "urgent community need" prompted the launch of the shelter on Sunday, the region said in a news release.

A regional report released last month showed there were 1,085 people experiencing homelessness in Waterloo region in September. That was up from 333 people in 2018, which was the last time a record was taken.

Staff from The Working Centre, a non-profit trying to address issues of unemployment and poverty in downtown Kitchener, will work at the shelter. The partners hope community volunteers will be able to help with other services, like meals, cleanup and sorting donations. 

Bob Courtney with St. Andrews Presbyterian said the shelter is looking for volunteers between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Anyone interested can contact the church via email

Courtney said the church is looking for volunteers who can serve food an perform administrative roles.

The church is also accepting donations of winter clothing items and blankets. Drop-offs can be arranged through the same email.

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