Kingston Council approves funding for Kingston Youth Shelter

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson casts his vote to support funding for the Kingston Youth Shelter (KYS). Screen captured image.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, Kingston City Council voted to approve $150,000 in capital funding for the Kingston Youth Shelter (KYS), which will allow the shelter to complete a second round of renovations at its new location at 365 Nelson Street. According to a staff report distributed in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, the money will help KYS expand its capacity by adding 11 new shelter spaces to bring the total number of overnight spaces to 24.

Since first obtaining the location on Nelson Street (former home of 5678 Dance Studio) in July of 2022, KYS completed an initial round of renovations at the space. This has allowed the organization to provide overnight shelter for up to 13 Kingston area youth (aged 16 to 24) at a time since opening its doors this past May. According to City staff, an expansion of the overall shelter space is what the organization envisioned when it first obtained the new building.

The report noted, “The expansion to accommodate up to 24 individuals is consistent with the capacity that was considered during the zoning bylaw amendment process that expanded the permitted uses of the property to include a shelter facility.” Now Kingston City Council has stepped up to provide KYS with the funds needed to complete the renovations.

The $150,000 in capital funding will come from the City of Kingston’s 2023-2024 Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) allotment. The initiative combines contributions from both the federal and provincial governments, with the money used to support various housing projects. For this funding year, the municipality has been allotted a total of $950,000 in OPHI funding.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the staff report was presented to Council for approval, and members voted unanimously to approve the funding for the project. With City Council’s support in place, the report noted renovations should be finished by the end of the year. The additional shelter spaces come at a time when dozens of Kingston youth are currently experiencing homelessness. According to the staff report, the City of Kingston’s By-Name List of people experiencing homelessness shows 53 homeless youth in the City of Kingston and County of Frontenac. 

Since its inception in 1999, KYS has provided temporary emergency shelter support for local youth between the ages of 16 to 24. The organization also provides additional support, including transitional beds, life skills programming, and in-house counselling. KYS is the only shelter in Kingston exclusively dedicated to youth.

Funding for KYS was not the only housing-related item on the agenda during Tuesday’s meeting, as councillors began the night with a lengthy debate on the City’s sleeping cabin program. After hearing from more than 20 delegations on the matter, followed by nearly 45 minutes of debate, Council voted 10-2 to end the program, which currently provides transitional housing support for 17 individuals.

Members of the public can find the agenda from this meeting of Kingston City Council on the City of Kingston’s council meetings webpage, and the meeting can be viewed in its entirety on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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