House of Friendship, supported by WalterFedy’s consulting services, is taking a big and exciting step forward on its ShelterCare approach to supporting homeless men in Waterloo Region.

The Government of Ontario recently announced capital investments of $8.5M for House of Friendship to advance its innovative ShelterCare program. ShelterCare wraps medical and community services around a housing-first approach to ending cycles of homelessness.

“WalterFedy’s partnership has been absolutely pivotal to ShelterCare’s ongoing success,” said Jessica Bondy, director of housing services at House of Friendship. “WalterFedy has blown us away with their willingness to partner, their eagerness to truly understand the needs of the homeless population and the housing sector, and their hustle – without them, this project would be years rather than months in the making.”

This funding is part of the province’s Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF), which is an effort to help municipalities and Indigenous program partners support vulnerable groups, including those who are homeless and/or at risk of homelessness in Ontario.

With an anticipated Fall 2022 opening, WalterFedy has created the renovation plans for the former Comfort Inn, adapting it to become a new emergency shelter that will operate 24/7. When renovated, this location will enable House of Friendship to continue to provide the highly successful ShelterCare program, which brings healthcare onsite to help individuals experiencing homelessness become healthier and housed. This new facility is conveniently situated near public transportation, recreational spaces, and job opportunities, and will serve 100 men. In addition to bedrooms, it will include treatment rooms, a primary care medical clinic, common areas for people to engage in intentional programming and spaces for staff to strategize and work together. Participants of ShelterCare will also have access to housing support, meals, and community-based wrap-around healthcare services, including mental health and addiction support.

In the supportive housing, affordable housing, and shelter world, there are oftentimes nuanced aspects of design that can significantly impact those the facility serves and employs. As such, WalterFedy has been working closely with House of Friendship staff since March 2021 to employ a trauma-informed design building to meet the unique needs of the program participants.

“It has been apparent from the outset that House of Friendship team is bringing decades of experience and passion to the design table,” said Ben Gregory, Project Architect. “They truly care about creating spaces that are inclusive, accessible, restore dignity, mitigate trauma triggers, and respect a broad range of identities and lived-experiences. House of Friendship is a pillar of supporting marginalized peoples in the Waterloo Region community and WalterFedy is proud to support such a respected and impactful organization.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the design team at WalterFedy,” said Jessica Bondy, Housing Services Director at House of Friendship. “They have taken our ideas and insights to create an innovative design that allows us to implement ShelterCare. We’re delighted to see this dream come to fruition alongside our the WalterFedy team.”

Homelessness continues to be a critical issue affecting more than 1,000 people in Waterloo Region. Thanks to the support of the community and generous investments from our municipal and provincial leaders, House of Friendship is well-positioned to provide life-changing resources for those in need of emergency food, housing, addiction treatment, and community support –a vital steppingstone on the path to empowerment and self-sufficiency.

Learn more about the ShelterCare project at 190 Weber here.

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