Supporting the most vulnerable in the community remains top of mind for Waterloo Region's homeless shelters.

“This year with COVID and the resurgence of COVID, and all of the things that that may mean in terms of possible closures of other spaces, it’s important for us to have overnight and daytime spaces,” said Elizabeth Clarke, Chief Executive Officer with YW Kitchener-Waterloo.

In addition to now providing health service, House of Friendship in Kitchener decided a move would better help them serve the community.

“The tower [in Waterloo] here provides us a dignified space, safety for the individuals but it's the integration of healthcare that really has been driving these outcomes that we want to see for our most vulnerable in our community,” said John Neufeld, Executive Director for House of Friendship.

To avoid an outbreak at a smaller shelter space in the area, House of Friendship took up residency at the Radisson in Kitchener at the start of the pandemic. Residents and business were supportive, but still faced a number of challenges.

“They did damage our windows and we had to call the police a few times. It’s driven our customers away, mostly family members and children. We do understand they do need that help it's just we wish that they did control it a little better,” said Heala Jamali, an employee at The Grill Burger Kitchen.

Hoping to establish a clearer line of communication and safer space for both the community around the tower at the inn of waterloo location, House of Friendship distributed 385 letters notifying people of the new shelter space set to open mid-October.

“This is a community challenge that we need to come together. You know we worked really hard with the City of Waterloo, bylaw, all that and our neighbourhood to ensure that we learn from what we did at the Radisson,” Neufeld said.

The Inn at Waterloo will still operate its usual hotel services. The tower will operate as a completely separate space with staff on hand to ensure everyone safety.