Hope in Action
Welcome to the first issue of Hope in Action for 2018. We’d love to get your feedback on the e-newsletter and as an incentive we’re drawing for a delicious, deep-dish lasagna, courtesy of Morning Glory Catering. Take the survey now for your chance to win – but hurry because the draw takes place February 1st!
Safe at Home
Canada is regularly ranked among the best places in the world to live but, sadly, more than 235,000* of our fellow citizens experience homelessness each year.
At Ray of Hope, a number of our guests struggle with chronic homelessness. These individuals may be “couch-surfing” with friends, living in a tent or a vehicle, or sleeping on the street. A new service is now available at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) to help these guests find permanent, safe and affordable housing.
The Transition Worker Program, provided by Lutherwood Housing Services, is part of a national “Housing First’ strategy that focuses on moving people who are experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. Then it provides additional supports, such as addiction treatment and mental health care, to help them stay housed.
“We are very excited about all the recent developments in research, program models and funding opportunities “says Lynn Macaulay, Coordinator of the Homelessness & Housing Umbrella Group (HHUG), a non-partisan organization that supports all local agencies (including Lutherwood and Ray of Hope) that work on issues of homelessness and housing.
“We now have a lot more tools and resources to assist people who are experiencing persistent homelessness “she says.
And the bigger picture is changing. Ontario wants to end chronic homelessness by 2025 and the federal government wants to see homelessness rates cut in half by 2027.
“We’re getting support from all levels of government. And with the help of groups like Ray of Hope, we’re getting a much better understanding of people who are struggling with homelessness and what they want and need in terms of housing.”
One of the methods that’s being used to gain that understanding is the Region of Waterloo’s Prioritized Access to Housing Stability (PATHS) Priority List.
“PATHs is the Region’s coordinated access process,” Lynn explains. “It’s real-time list of people experiencing homelessness and information about their housing needs. The list helps us track people who are newly homeless or returning to homelessness and those who have been housed. And it allows us to connect people with the right resources as quickly as possible.”
Transition workers Jamie and Diana visit the ROHCC every Wednesday afternoon. While they’re available to offer general housing offer tips to all our guests, their main purpose is to connect with people experiencing chronic homelessness. If one of these individuals expresses interest, the workers can complete an assessment and add them to the PATHS list, if appropriate.
People identified as being at the greatest risk (due to factors that include physical and mental illness or addictions and the length of time they’ve been homeless) will be offered places in housing programs first.
Currently, there are approximately 264 people on the PATHS list.
“Our ultimate goal is to get to what we call ‘functional zero’, where we have enough housing to meet the needs of the people who are accessing our services. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving forward,” Lynn says.
Front-line organizations like Ray of Hope should be recognized for their key support of vulnerable people, she says.
“Ray of Hope has provided essential services to these folks while the system was figuring it out. And you’ve welcomed community partners and helped us to really understand the complex needs of the people you serve.”
When it comes to the problem of homelessness in Waterloo Region, “Ray of Hope is part of the solution.”
* From The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.
How you can help
One small but important way you can help is to do your part in reducing the stigma surrounding homelessness. “Don’t be afraid. Say hello,” Cheryl Cowie of Lutherwood Housing Services says.
On a larger scale, contact the Region if you are a developer who is interested in building subsidized housing or Cheryl if you are a property owner, to discuss further. For more information, please contact her at 519-749-8305, ext. 1705 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Battle of the Bowls
It’s time for the Ray of Hope Souperbowl!
Join us on Wednesday, January 24, when teams from across Ray of Hope compete to decide which of their tasty recipes will be served to walkers on the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY).
Grab a bowl, sample the soup smorgasbord, and vote for your favourite. Chat with specials guests MPP Catherine Fife, Regional Chair Ken Seiling and Police Chief Bryan Larkin. And learn more about CNOY (and how it supports Community Centre programs) from organizers, team captains, and sponsors.
Rally the ratatouille. Bring on the bouillabaisse. And may the best bowl win.
Join us at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (659 King Street East) from 12 to 1 pm. Entrance and parking are at the rear off Stirling Lane. Please RSVP to Scott at email@example.com by Monday, January 22.