No federal funding for new youth centre in Kingston

Digital rendering of the new Kingston Youth Services Hub. Graphic via Home Base Housing Kingston.

More than three years ago, Kingston City Council approved Princess Street United Church’s conversion into a new youth centre, Kingston Youth Services Hub, to cater to the needs of at-risk homeless youth in the community. Today, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, Kingston HomeBase, the leading organization for the project, announced that the project did not receive funding from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI).

According to a release from Kingston HomeBase, this decision has left the organization disappointed, as the project held the promise of providing much-needed shelter and support for youth in the community.

As described by HomeBase, the project would house the first-ever space in Ontario with a single site, multiple services model to provide services and facilities to youth with a comprehensive, holistic, and symbiotic approach to youth homelessness.

The property, acquired by Home Base Housing in 2019, was intended to include a cultural arts centre, a new services hub, up to 60 units of transitional and supportive housing, and a skills training centre and potential restaurant and café — all without sacrificing existing church services at the site.

But in mid-July 2023, HomeBase received the disheartening news that its funding bid, which sought $14 million in federal financing to construct 48 supportive housing apartments for homeless youth, was not successful. According to the release, despite the organization investing significant efforts and resources to meet the RHI’s requirements, such as having the project “shovel ready” with architectural drawings, engineering plans, permits, and preliminary work completed, the funding support was not granted. HomeBase has already invested over $2 million in the project to date, emphasizing the dedication and commitment to addressing the urgent issue of youth homelessness in the region.

Board President Ed Smith expressed his deep concern, noting, “Currently, there are 52 youth living precariously in our city. We are bewildered that the Government of Canada did not come to their aid.”

The Kingston Youth Services residential project had secured over $25.6 million in contributions to build out the various elements of the Kingston Youth Services Hub, according to HomeBase. Despite these significant efforts to mobilize funding from various sources, the rejection leaves the future of the project uncertain.

Tom Greening, the Executive Director of HomeBase, also expressed his concern, stating, “At this time, it is unclear if the project can be built at all, even with a  reduction in the number of residential units. Instead of getting on with building new, much-needed supportive housing, we see that the youth shelter is operating at full capacity and new emergency shelter beds are being added.”    

In light of the funding setback, HomeBase said it is left with the responsibility of reviewing its options for this critical project. Despite the disappointment, the organization remains committed to a “re-set” of expectations and to finding alternative solutions and securing the necessary funding to address the pressing issue of youth homelessness in Kingston, according to the release.

HomeBase extends its gratitude to all the contributors who rallied behind the cause and believes that with continued support and collaboration, they can make a difference in the lives of the youth in the community.

To learn more about Kingston HomeBase and the services it offers, visit the organization’s website.

One thought on “No federal funding for new youth centre in Kingston

  • Wow I thought this was a done deal. Sorry to see the feds not willing to support an important part of the community housing puzzle. Would be nice to see alternatives that the they (the Feds) wanted to see to address youth homelessness after all youth do vote.

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