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Emergency Shelter Services

For emergency shelter, 24 hour Voice or TTY call 519-744-0120



Emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness used to operate from a ‘housing readiness’ model, which assumed that people experiencing homelessness must resolve the issues that may have contributed to their homelessness before they will be successful in any future housing. This assumption often resulted in extended shelter stays, which were disruptive and sometimes damaging to people’s lives – particularly children’s – and caused great pressure on shelters’ capacities.
The last decade saw an increasing crisis of homelessness in the developed world that challenged the housing readiness model. New research has resulted in a ‘housing first’ model being implemented around the globe. Housing first is based on the concept that homeless people’s first need is to obtain permanent housing, and that other issues that may have contributed to their homelessness can and should be addressed after housing is obtained – not before.
The Region of Waterloo, which funds emergency shelters, has adopted the housing first model and re-defined the emergency shelter system as one that offers “immediate access to temporary shelter for people who have no other safe and appropriate place to stay while they look for housing”. The primary mandate of emergency shelters is now therefore to promote and support homeless clients’ rapid rehousing.
Requiring clients to be out of the shelter during daytime hours, and of course offering housing resources and assistance as individual clients require, promotes and supports their rapid rehousing. All other shelters in our region have long had this requirement, and the YWCA is now doing the same.
Clients with pre-school aged children, clients who are sick, and clients who work nights will not be subject to this requirement, and the requirement will not be enforced during extreme weather alerts.


YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo's 60-bed emergency shelter for women (16 and older), transgender people, and families who are experiencing homelessness is located at 84 Frederick Street in downtown Kitchener. Emergency shelter is provided for single parents of any gender, two parent families and the only local safe shelter for men with children who are experiencing domestic violence.

YWCA Mary's Place

Homelessness is the only criterion for residence.

Clients are asked a series of questions to determine if other options and support may help them to maintain their current housing, or find new housing before emergency shelter is needed.  If no other options are available, the intake process can begin.

The shelter provides an important safety net to ensure that families, women and transgender persons have immediate access to shelter, food and other basic necessities of life in emergencies, when their personal resources and supports are unable to sustain them in housing. Addressing the complex needs of those experiencing homelessness using an anti-oppression/anti-racist, trauma informed and client centred approach in a non-judgemental supportive environment. Individual and family stability is enchances in a time of crisis by providing basic needs and crisis support. 

Personal and family resiliency is enchanced through problem-solving and decision-making, advocacy, information and referral to appropriate resources in the community. (income,employment or housing) that assist with securing and maintaining permanent housing.

The emergency shelter is wheelchair accessible and has systems as well as supports in place to assist those who are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing and/or have visual challenges.


Contact Emergency Shelter Services
Phone: 519-744-0120
Fax: 519-744-7728

Please note we are unable to process cash or cash equivalent donations (such as gift cards) at this location.

Cash or cash equivalent donations will be gratefully accepted at our 153 Frederick St. office between 8.30 a.m. and 4 p.m.