Region of Waterloo completes engagement process to identify and support those experiencing homelessness

Posted on Wednesday November 03, 2021

Waterloo Region – TheRegion of Waterloo has completed an expanded community engagement process to better identify and support those experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region. The Point in Time (PiT) Count, conducted in September 2021, found a total of 1,085 people experiencing any type of homelessness. This number is consistent with current service delivery trends of those accessing and connected to housing focused services. 

Of the 1,085 people experiencing some form of homelessness, most are connected to existing programs and services including: street outreach programs, emergency shelters, interim housing. Four hundred and twleve were living rough (in encampments, on the street, or in their vehicles), while the remaining 673 were experiencing hidden homelessness, in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, or were in institutions.

Six hundred and nine of the people counted completed a voluntary survey to detail their experiences of homelessness. They shared information also included in the report, about what led them to become homeless, how long they have been homeless, and what types of supports and services they need. For the first time, the Region worked with a broader group of community partners to better capture and engage those experiencing homelessness across the Waterloo Region.

While the PiT Count captures people experiencing all types of homelessness, Region staff regularly report on the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness. Those experiencing chronic homelessness have longer experiences of homelessness, often have more complex needs, and are connected to more intensive and ongoing supports and services aimed at supporting people to transition into permanent housing. The Region of Waterloo is focused on ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2025 in alignment with the Province of Ontario’s commitment.

As a result of the engagement process, region staff are recommending increased investments in ending homelessness, including expanded partnerships and increased supports and services. 

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“We all share our community’s concerns about the growing need to better support those experiencing homelessness and provide them with a permanent place to call home. While this is a complex challenge shared by many community partners and levels of government, more accurate data will help us better support those experiencing homelessness and contribute to ending chronic homelessness in Waterloo Region.”

- Regional Chair Karen Redman

“The Region of Waterloo has made great strides in housing and homelessness these last few years. The engagement process to complete the Point in Time count this year has provided us with a much greater understanding of the challenges and shone a light on the great value of partnerships and working with trusted community partners in supporting these residents in need.”

- Councillor Jim Erb, Chair of the Housing and Homelessness Steering Committee

"The numbers in the Point in Time Count are consistent with the numbers we see across Waterloo Region in our database of those accessing services. We know that everyone is housing ready, and will continue to work towards ending chronic homelessness in the Region of Waterloo."

- Chris McEvoy, Manager, Housing Services

Background Information:

  • Federal and Provincial Governments require the completion of Point in Time (PiT) Counts every two years.
  • From September 21-23, 2021, Regional staff and community partners counted and engaged with people experiencing homelessness across the region.
  • A PiT Count involves counting the number of people experiencing homelessness in the region, and using an anonymous survey to ask about people’s experience of homelessness.
  • People connected to the Housing Stability System were surveyed, along with people staying unsheltered and in encampments and those experiencing hidden homelessness (e.g., couch surfing). The approach also included engaging with agencies and community members in the four townships, Racialized communities, and youth.
  • In partnership with community providers, strategic engagement strategies were used to build on the connections and relationships that partners have with community members experiencing homelessness.
  • To get a more complete picture of homelessness in Waterloo Region, the number of people experiencing homelessness in other systems were counted, but did not complete surveys (e.g., Hospital, Police Custody, Women’s Crisis Services).
    • A unique engagement process with Racialized communities was facilitated by the Aids Committee of Cambridge Kitchener Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA), and involved engaging with those accessing services and experiencing hidden homelessness. Further, the Employment Centre operated by the Working Centre engaged many new immigrants from the Syrian, Arabic and African communities through staff and community connectors to engage with those experiencing homelessness.



For media information, please contact:

Lynsey Slupeiks, Manager, Corporate Communications,

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