Men displaced by House of Friendship closure have places to stay

By Germain Ma

After the House of Friendship was forced to temporarily close down in early November, 70 men who were displaced by the closure have now, found places to stay.

John Neufeld, the executive director for the House of Friendship said 25 went back to the old shelter in downtown Kitchener, 25 were placed in other shelters in the region and another 10 were able to get into more permanent housing.

“There's about 10 who had sort of very unique situations, so some were able to move in with family,” he said.

“Others moved out of region, but just happy that all 70 found a place to be.”

He explained that the men living in transitional housing are able to be there 24/7, and will receive ongoing supports. 

“They're able to get access to some medical supports,” Neufeld explained. “There are always staffing supports on site, so for these individuals who experience fairly significant challenges, they also have made a lot of great progress.”

He said the organization's goal is always to help people get long-term, stable housing.

He said homelessness in the region has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our average house prices have skyrocketed, and that change really went back to about 2016, 2017 where things started escalating,” Neufeld said. “It's not surprising that since that point, since that time, homelessness has also increased. We've got lots of large economic factors at play here,” he said.

“I think what the pandemic has done, it just happened to coincide with this increase that was already happening pre-pandemic and it became more visible.”

“The numbers got larger in Waterloo region, so it was less hidden.”

Initially, the House of Friendship had men staying at the Inn of Waterloo.

After a fire there in February 2021, the men moved over to a hotel in Guelph, but the House of Friendship was not able to renew its lease after November 30.

Neufeld said the last of the men left the hotel this past weekend. 

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