Kitchener YWCA to serve as temporary overflow shelter until April 2019

Regional council voted in favour of making the YWCA at 84 Frederick Street in Kitchener a temporary overflow shelter ahead of higher demand in the winter months.
A man sleeps on King Street in downtown Kitchener. The region will open a temporary overflow shelter at the YWCA at 84 Frederick Street from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2019. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The YWCA at 84 Frederick St. in Kitchener will serve as a temporary overflow shelter until next April.

The region will allocate $347,000 of existing provincial funding to cover the cost of the overflow shelter, which will start being used as of Nov. 1.

When one shelter is full, people are directed to another site or overflow option until all the beds are used. In the past, when all the shelters were full, the region would put additional people into motels.

A staff report presented to regional council Wednesday night noted in the last six months, occupancy in adult shelters "has been running at close to full occupancy."

"We need to be prepared for potentially high numbers of people seeking shelter again during the colder months of the year," the reigon's housing services director Deb Schlichter said in a release. "And we know that last year's approach worked well to help ease the pressure on shelters."

The region said last winter's overflow option, run by the House of Friendship, cost the region about $112,000. That is $178,000 less than if they had to rely on motel overflow alone. On an average night, 50 people used the overflow shelter, which was located in St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Kitchener.

"We will ensure that everyone who wants a warm place to sleep will have one," Schlichter said. "This is also a more cost-effective alternative to motel overflow."

In total, the region has 195 adult spaces and 48 youth spaces.

The Working Centre in Kitchener runs two "bunkies," which are old shipping containers that have been made into living quarters that house one person each. Inside, there is electricity, heaters and a mattress.