Kitchener-Waterloo

Homeless housed in motels as shelters overflow during cold snap

It's been extremely cold in Kitchener-Waterloo, which means more homeless people are showing up at shelters which are overflowing with demand.

The Region of Waterloo says shelters are at peak capacity, with more men looking for beds

The YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo is one of the six service providers in the region. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC)

With the recent snap of extreme cold temperatures in Kitchener-Waterloo, shelters in the region are reaching full capacity. Service providers have begun temporarily housing the homeless  in motels, after being unable to find them beds at partnering organizations. 

Deb Schlichter, the director of housing services at the Region of Waterloo, said all providers are currently acting as "a system." 

She said research conducted by the region shows there's been higher volumes of people showing up at shelters recently, compared to previous years. 

More men at shelters

"We need to dig a bit deeper into our data to understand what's driving this," said Schlichter. "It seems to be just specific to our adult men."   

Lynn Perry, an organizational development advisor with The Bridges in Cambridge, said her shelter has filled 78 to 100 beds every night over the last week. 

"We don't turn anyone away," she said.

Perry said she's also noticed a higher number of men at her shelter and believes unemployment is one of the factors causing them to become homeless, alongside the recent opioid crisis and increased barriers to affordable housing. 

"Those jobs are not available as they once were," said Perry.

"Just look at the massive impact of the labour market with the closing of a company like Budd Canada, [in 2009] where you had these people who might or might not have a high school education, working in jobs where they were able to support themselves and family," she said. 

The region announced it is releasing a report Friday afternoon with suggested solutions to the recent spike being seen at the local shelters. 

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