Changes to our Emergency Shelter hours

Mar 13, 2017

Weekday, daytime access to the Emergency Shelter is being limited beginning March 20, 2017.

 Clients will leave the shelter at 8:30 am, be provided with a bag lunch and can return to the shelter after 4:30pm for a hot meal.
 Exceptions to this change where clients can remain in the shelter include:
o Activation of the Extreme Weather Procedures for Emergency Shelter
o Clients who are ill or work an overnight job
o Families with small children not in school or daycare (families with school age children will be able to return once school is over each day)
o Weekends and public holidays.


What is Staying the Same?
 YWCA staff are available, by appointment, to help clients secure housing
 Phone calls to the shelter will continue to be answered
 Assessing people’s need for emergency shelter will continue over the phone or by appointment
 Scheduling and completing intakes will continue over the phone or by appointment


Why is the Change Happening?
Our goal in making the upcoming changes is so that the YWCA:
 helps clients move as quickly as possible into permanent housing, building on their existing strength and resilience.
 aligns our emergency shelter with the Region of Waterloo’s Emergency Shelter Framework (2017); and
 aligns with how other shelters have historically required their clients to be out in the community on weekdays seeking housing and accessing community supports and services.

Emergency Shelters for people experiencing homelessness historically operated from a ‘housing readiness’ model, which assumed that an individual or family experiencing homelessness must resolve the issues that may have led to their experience so that they could be successful in their future housing. The YWCA, operating from that model, has previously not required clients to get up in the morning, get dressed or leave the building. It has assumed that as adults, they would be motivated to find housing, when they were ready, with our support and help if needed. All other Regional Emergency Shelters currently have a period of time during the day when clients are required to be up, dressed and out in the community.
The last decade saw an increasing crisis of homelessness in the developed world that questioned the housing readiness model and the cost to the person and society. The research and innovation has resulted in Housing First models being implemented around the globe. Housing First is based on the concept that an individual’s or family’s first and primary need is to obtain permanent housing, and that other issues that may be present and may have contributed to their homelessness can and should be addressed after housing is obtained – not before.
The Region of Waterloo in adopting the Housing First model has defined the Emergency Shelter Program as one that offers immediate access to safe, temporary shelter for people who have no other safe and appropriate place to stay while they look for housing. Individualized shelter services meet basic needs and support the housing process by providing housing-focused support. Highly accessible shelter services are offered to people who are vulnerable and during times of extreme weather
We believe requiring everyone except parents with small children and people who are ill/working overnight, to be out in the community looking for housing every weekday will result in shorter shelter stays. No one will be required to leave during periods of extreme cold or freezing rain.
We believe those who have secured housing should also be out of the shelter to build on, support and expand their connections to existing community resources and supports that may help them maintain their housing. They can develop new or existing skills, or seek employment, training, volunteer or recreational opportunities.


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