Region invests in permanent emergency shelter and future affordable housing with purchase of 84 Frederick Street

Posted on Wednesday June 19, 2024

Waterloo Region – Today, Region of Waterloo Council approved the purchase of 84 Frederick Street, Kitchener for use as a permanent emergency shelter and as a critical investment in future affordable housing in downtown Kitchener. The purchase from the building’s current owners, YW Kitchener-Waterloo, will be finalized as of July 1, 2024.  

“The purchase of 84 Frederick Street ensures we maintain flexibility in responding to the need for increased housing supports across the board. This is an investment in our future,” said Regional Chair Karen Redman. “The Region of Waterloo remains a committed partner in providing the supports our entire community so desperately needs, finding creative partnerships and looking to what is next.” 

The emergency shelter system remains under increasing pressure. Chronic homelessness has risen by 129 per cent since 2020 and if the current pace of growth continues, it will triple by 2028.  

In response, The Region of Waterloo has more than doubled shelter bed occupancy from 254 beds in 2018 to 605 beds in January 2024, including emergency shelters, motels and transitional housing.  

Significant and strategic investments in permanent supportive housing have also been made. Over 100 new permanent fixed site supportive housing units and more than 200 scattered site supportive housing units dedicated to people exiting experiences of chronic homelessness have been created over the past three years. 

“To date, our response to the need for more shelter beds has been through opening temporary sites and securing rented space,” said Councillor Jim Erb, Chair of Community and Health Services Committee. “Over the last few years, we have opened more than 17 temporary sites. Although this provided a timely and dynamic response, it came with challenges related to financial and system stability and community impact.” 

“With permanent space, the Region will be in a better position to implement changes needed to end chronic homelessness. As we stabilize the housing support system, we will be able to shift our focus to preventative and supportive measures rather than solely emergency response.”  

“This sale allows the YW to move forward with our plan to design new emergency shelter for vulnerable women in our community while creating more capacity across the sector. This is a great opportunity for the YW, the community, and overall, an important step in putting into action the Plan to End Chronic Homelessness,” said YW CEO Jennifer Breaton. “The YW is excited to move ahead with its vision, focusing on better supports for women and families in Kitchener-Waterloo. The sale of the property allows us to do this.” 

The 84 Frederick site will replace the King Street Emergency Shelter currently operating at 1668 King Street East in Kitchener. The King Street Shelter opened on September 29, 2022, as part of the Council-approved and community-developed Interim Housing Solutions plan. Since opening, the site has been near or at capacity nightly, highlighting the critical need to maintain emergency shelter spaces in the system and in the City of Kitchener area more specifically. 

“With today’s approval of the purchase of 84 Frederick, we will begin planning for the transition from the King Street Emergency Shelter site,” said Peter Sweeney, Commissioner of Community Services.  

The 84 Frederick Street site will support individuals in their housing journey through access to on-site programming, including health, addictions, and employment support. A Housing-First operating model will ensure that the emergency shelter contributes to vibrancy and inclusivity within downtown Kitchener while acknowledging the need to grow with care across the Waterloo Region. 


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