If a community-led plan finds homes for 258 people by November 2020, Waterloo Region will become one of the first in Canada to end chronic homelessness.
The plan, led by the Homelessness Housing Umbrella Group (HHUG) and Wellbeing Waterloo Region (WWR), is to house people who have been homeless the longest and have the most complex needs within two years.
“Our community is saying that it is no longer acceptable for people to be homeless for years at a time,” said ALL IN 2020 Coordinator Lynn Macaulay. “We understand the detrimental impact it has on individuals and the community as a whole, so together we are going to save lives and improve our community’s health and wellbeing. In order to do that, we need everyone to be a housing hero and support the campaign.”
Having people housed with adequate supports costs up to 10 times less than responding to homelessness through services such as police, EMS and hospitals.
The campaign is asking everyone to become part of the solution in a variety of ways. It calls on landlords to offer up their units and asks the public to break down stereotypes about people who are homeless and living with mental health and addictions.
One of ALL IN 2020’s campaign goals is to raise $700,000 over two years. That’s the estimated additional cost to house 258 people who are chronically homeless by 2020 instead of the 2025 deadline set by the previous provincial government.
“People can’t afford to wait that long,” said Macaulay. “We need to house people now; and we will do it in a way that we know worked well in the United States and as a pilot in Cambridge.”
The campaign website, www.hhug.ca has set up a dashboard that will show how many people are being housed and how the public can help.
“It is exciting to see the concrete ways that the community can help to end chronic homelessness,” said Deb Schlichter, Director of Housing Services at the Region of Waterloo. “The community can achieve this goal much quicker by working together.”
Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) has already announced its commitment.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with HHUG and the organizations involved with the Affordable Housing Catalyst Group for Wellbeing Waterloo Region to support this important initiative,” said Elizabeth Heald, President & CEO, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation.
“KWCF is committed to administering the “All in 2020” Fund on behalf of HHUG, and we are excited to help the fund grow by pledging to match the first $25,000 donated through the community to the fund.”
Brenda Luscott spoke at the launch of the campaign about her son Colin’s experience. Colin recently passed away at the age of 42; he was homeless for a few years before moving into supportive housing. Although housed when he died, by that time Colin’s struggles with addiction and homelessness had severely impacted his physical health.
“I would like to believe that, had ALL IN 2020 been in place back then, things would have turned out quite differently,” said Luscott.