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The YW Kitchener-Waterloo is closing its emergency shelter property at 84 Frederick St. in downtown Kitchener and selling the property in order to redevelop the way it offers services to women in Waterloo Region. The organization plans to use the money from the sale to open two or three smaller locations across the region to better serve its clients. The decision to close the shelter and transition all clients to a new location by June 30 is due in part to the high cost of maintaining the aging building, which was taking away funds that could be better used to serve clients. YWKW CEO Jennifer Breaton explained that the organization began looking for a new location last year and is also reconsidering how it serves the needs of women in the area.

In an effort to develop a new setup for its shelters, YWKW has looked at other new shelter models in the area, such as the House of Friendship’s ShelterCare and the Working Centre’s Erb’s Road setup, and has toured various facilities. Breaton emphasized that the organization has listened to feedback from both clients who use their services and those who do not, with a focus on creating a space that is welcoming and inclusive to all women. Through the sale of the Frederick Street property, YWKW aims to establish smaller, scattered sites that are tailored to the needs of the women they serve. The new spaces will be trauma-informed, culturally safe, and rooted in evidence, with a focus on providing support to vulnerable women and their families with multidisciplinary staff.

Currently, the Frederick Street building houses 54 beds that are in use, a number that fluctuates based on various factors including weather. YWKW is working with community partners to ensure that everyone has a place to go before the facility closes its doors. Breaton mentioned that the organization is exploring short-term and long-term options to support the current clients during the transition period. It remains uncertain how long it will take for the new shelters to open, but YW Kitchener-Waterloo is committed to supporting vulnerable women, children, and families in the region, as they have been doing for the past 100 years. YWKW board chair Karen Coviello stated that the organization is working diligently to establish the new shelters as quickly as possible to continue serving those in need.

In conclusion, the YW Kitchener-Waterloo’s decision to close its emergency shelter property and open smaller, more tailored locations is driven by a desire to better serve women in Waterloo Region by creating a more inclusive and effective space. The organization is taking into account feedback from both clients and non-clients to ensure that the new shelters are welcoming to all. By selling the Frederick Street property, YWKW plans to invest in new spaces that are trauma-informed and culturally safe, with multidisciplinary staff to provide comprehensive support. While the timeline for opening the new shelters remains uncertain, YWKW is committed to supporting vulnerable women, children, and families in the region. Through this transition, the organization aims to improve its services and continue its legacy of serving the community for another century.

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