A growing challenge
At the time of last count, over 650 individuals in Niagara experienced homelessness. With the rising cost of living and rent prices becoming more and more unaffordable, this number is at risk of continuing to grow. The statistics also don’t accurately reflect the hundreds of individuals living in unstable housing situations, such as couch surfing or living with an abusive partner. In order for a person to succeed at school, at work or in the community, they need a strong foundation, which includes a stable roof above their head.
United Way strongly believes that having a safe and secure place to call home is something everyone deserves. Having somewhere stable to rest your head each night can allow you to find adequate work, succeed in your studies or participate in your community. We can help those who are struggling through the shelter system, but ideally these programs are only a brief transition before entering into a forever home. Being there for a vulnerable individual when they are struggling is our duty, but our goal is to see each person standing on their own with a place they are proud to call home.
The last point-in-time count in Niagara showed that 665 individuals were homeless at any given time in Niagara.
Of those people experiencing homelessness, 121 were children.
The cost of rent continues to increase year over year well above provincial guidelines CMHC
What are we doing about it?
United Way Niagara supports programs, services and initiatives that help people acquire and maintain safe, secure, accessible, affordable and appropriate housing. We value investments in wrap around, housing first and supportive housing approaches that often bridge gaps from emergency shelters and precarious housing situations to permanent housing.
Our Welcome Home Kit special initiative assists families transitioning from shelter into the home with the essentials not easily afforded by someone who recently was operating on the poverty line.
We invest in emergency adult and youth shelters that offer outreach programs and coordinated services that can assist in difficult personal challenges like addiction or mental health issues. Our vision for a stable life isn’t one where a person is in and out of the shelter system for the majority of their lives. Wrap around, housing first approaches mean individuals and families will have the tools to maintain their living situation and stabilize their lives.
“I started using hard drugs in my twenties while attending university. But because of my drug use, after graduating I ended up living on the streets for four years. I always utilized any resources out there, like food banks, shelters, and drop-in centres. So, I became familiar with United Way from that perspective. At one food bank, I made a real connection with someone who was working there. She was so loving and caring and never judgmental. I began volunteering there after that, working with their after-school program and food prep. I struggle with depression but volunteering got me up and out of bed. It changed my life. Today I have a place to live, and I’m no longer a hard drug user. I’m 62 years old, and I’m alive. So that’s a success story.”