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Letter: Lily’s Place – Celebrating 10 years of supporting Kingston families through difficult moments

Editorial note: The following is a submitted open letter. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.

After a challenging two years, the staff at Lily’s Place are thrilled to be celebrating such a positive milestone. “Not a day goes by that I don’t love going to work to help these families through a difficult time in their lives,” Angela Watson, supervisor at Lily’s Place said of her 20 years working to support our community. 

A local family shares some time together in their new backyard space at Lily’s Place. Submitted photo.

Those seen coming through the doors of Lily’s Place Emergency Shelter for Families reflect the diverse family structures of our community. Two parent households, single parent households, and wide-ranging family styles of adults caring for children will find the support and resources they deserve to keep their family safe. Single fathers are frequently overlooked as a family structure, and they can experience additional barriers accessing family services. Out of the families that have been supported by Lily’s Place thus far in 2022, 90 per cent have had an adult male as part of their family structure. Home Base Housing and Lily’s Place supports all families and want to continue to encourage a space where fathers are welcomed.

So many Kingston families have struggled during this enduring period of uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Lily’s Place diligently following the safety protocols, it meant having to reduce capacity in the face of an increase in families in need of support. With a person-centred care approach, the staff at Lily’s Place have risen to the occasion to respond to these changes. Families that could not be accommodated on-site were placed at a hotel and supported by staff while they awaited beds in the shelter to open. In the past six months, over 75 individuals have been supported at Lily’s Place as they work through experiencing homelessness.

One local family who has received support through Lily’s Place sits together on the steps of their new home space at the emergency support shelter. “Our landlord gave us notice that they were selling their home, and we needed to vacate… Finding affordable housing has been very difficult. We have been told by landlords that they have had hundreds of applications… We came to Lily’s Place as we ran out of options for our family. Lily’s Place is a nice home setting with staff who have been supportive,” expressed the mother and father pictured here, who are currently staying at Lily’s Place. Submitted photo.

With such a shift in the housing market, there has been a notable increase in landlords selling their rental properties and asking tenants to vacate. This results in families being priced out of their existing living situations. The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Kingston is $1,821, and larger families looking for three- or four-bedrooms are being faced with average costs of $2,200 to $2,595. Kingston families are in the difficult position of having their basic expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries dramatically exceed their income, resulting in evictions and an inability to support their children. Lily’s Place programming is designed to support families through achieving financial stability and housing supports within a safe environment, giving families the space they need while working through their homelessness.

Our landlord gave us notice that they were selling their home, and we needed to vacate… Finding affordable housing has been very difficult. We have been told by landlords that they have had hundreds of applications… We came to Lily’s Place as we ran out of options for our family. Lily’s Place is a nice home setting with staff who have been supportive.”

– Parents of family currently staying at lily’s place

Once these families have made the transition into housing, they continue to receive ongoing support from the Family Case Managers here at Home Base Housing. This helps them to sustain their success and continue to support their families in the future.

A local family makes their way into their new living space at Lily’s Place in Kingston. Submitted photo.

Thank you to the Lily’s Place staff for their commitment to Kingston families over the last 10 years, and thank you to the families for collaborating with them to make this our community stronger.

Katherine Cooper
Communications and Fundraising Coordinator
Home Base Housing, Kingston


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