As the third wave of the pandemic continues to put pressure on the province’s already stretched shelter system, the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors (KWAR) is supporting the House of Friendship by providing $10,413 in funding to assist with service continuity.
“It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted our most vulnerable populations, both in our community and around the world. Realtors in Kitchener-Waterloo understand that homelessness and affordable housing are major issues facing us in the Waterloo Region and we are pleased to provide this financial support to The House of Friendship,” says Nicole Pohl, president of KWAR.
Margaret Lucas, development director of House of Friendship says, “The men staying at our shelter had a super difficult year. They have experienced being displaced to three locations in just 12 months, being removed from their often-fragile networks and few personal possessions, losing friends to overdoses, and living through a COVID outbreak. On top of being highly unwell, that’s a lot to carry.”
House of Friendship faced an additional challenge from a fire in February. At the time, there were 130 individuals staying at the Inn of Waterloo and calling it home. Fortunately, with support from the community, these individuals were relocated to a hotel in Guelph.
“That’s why Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors’ gift matters so much,” says Lucas. “They are giving these men the gift of a safe place to sleep and heal, including wrap-around healthcare and housing supports through our ShelterCare model. The great news in all of this is that over 30 men who were staying with us have been housed since our shelter fire in February, and over 77 per cent of this at-risk group have now been vaccinated.”
All charities receiving funding are listed on RealHeart.ca, a recently launched initiative with a mission to support Ontario Realtors in their work to build stronger communities across Ontario.
KWAR is also expanding its reach to local charities this year through its annual Realtor Run to raise funds for the House of Friendship, Indwell, Lutherwood and A Better Tent City.