Kingston Council to vote on renovation funding for Kingston Youth Shelter

Kingston City Hall. Kingstonist file photo.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, Kingston City Councillors will debate a potential funding opportunity for the Kingston Youth Shelter (KYS). According to a staff report published in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, KYS needs $150,000 in capital funding to complete the second round of renovations at its new home at 365 Nelson Street.

The KYS organization provides shelter support for Kingston area youth aged 16 to 24 through emergency shelter space, transitional housing, and other support services. 

Since opening at the Nelson Street location (former home of 5678 Dance Studio) in May 2023, KYS has been able to accommodate a total of 13 people overnight. The report notes that the renovations will provide 11 additional shelter spaces, allowing KYS to accommodate a total of 24 individuals overnight.

“This increase in capacity is consistent with the plans for the shelter facility that were first considered during the development approvals process,” according to the report.

City staff are recommending that councillors approve $150,000 in capital funding for the project, with the necessary funding to be made available through the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI). According to the report, OPHI funding is comprised of contributions from both the provincial and federal governments, with the money used to fund housing programs.

The report states, “Should the recommendations of this report be approved, staff will apply to the province to commit the funds to this project. Staff have previously discussed the project details with provincial staff, and it has been determined that the shelter renovations are in line with eligibility criteria of the OPHI program.” In total, the municipality has been allocated $952,000 in OPHI funding from 2023 to 2024.

Sleeping pods at the new KYS facility on Nelson Street. Photo by Dylan Chenier/Kingstonist.

According to the report, the need for additional overnight shelter space for local youth is reflected in statistics available through the City’s By-Name List of people currently experiencing homelessness. The report notes the By-Name List currently shows 53 homeless youth in the City of Kingston and County of Frontenac. 

Staff note that, of the 53 homeless youth on the By-Name List, “35 are chronically homeless, which means they have been unhoused for over 180 days in one year or for 18 months over three years.” The report states 37 youth have spent at least one night in a local shelter, “and among the 37 they share an average of 59 nights in shelter in the last year,” staff add.

A further breakdown of the demographics of homeless youth in Kingston shows 42 per cent identify as female, 51 per cent identify as male, and four per cent identify as “transgender, two-spirit, or non-binary.” Three youth are within the County of Frontenac, while those remaining are from the City of Kingston. Nine people on the list identify as Indigenous. The report also notes that two of the youth on the By-Name List are “heads of a family.”

In July, members of the media were given a tour of the new KYS facility, as officials outlined their intention to raise $190,000 to complete additional renovations at the site. Now, the City of Kingston is poised to step up and help the organization secure a significant portion of those funds. The report notes that if the recommendations are approved during Tuesday’s meeting, the renovations should be complete by the end of the year. 

The staff report will be presented to Council for debate during its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, at 7 p.m. inside Council Chambers. Full meeting agendas are available on the City of Kingston website. Meetings are open to the public and can be streamed live (or viewed later) on the Kingston City Council YouTube page.

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