Queen’s University, along with the Kingston Youth Shelter, City of Kingston, United Way of KFL&A, Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region, and Atkinson Home Hardware, are working together to help address the growing issue of youth homelessness in our city.
According to the university, McGillivray-Brown Hall is being transformed into a temporary emergency youth shelter until the new youth shelter location is complete.
Starting in April, the Barrie Street facility will offer 16 sleeping pods to youth aged 16 to 24 who are in need of a place to sleep. The location will be used for several months until the construction of a new youth shelter facility in Kingston is complete.
“Queen’s is committed to making a positive impact in the Kingston community,” said Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal of Finance and Administration at Queen’s University. “That impact happens when the university works in partnership with local organizations that are making a difference, like Kingston Youth Shelter. The effects of the pandemic have exacerbated the growing issue of youth homelessness and Kingston Youth Shelter continues to provide a critical service in the city. As they prepare to move into a new facility this fall, Kingston Youth Shelter was in need of a temporary space. We are pleased that Queen’s was able to accommodate the Kingston Youth Shelter requirements by providing a temporary location.”
Currently, Kingston Youth Shelter (KYS) is operating at 234 Brock Street. According to the shelter’s website, when these new pods are ready, both locations will be utilized. The organization said that youth will sleep at MacGillivray-Brown Hall, and the Brock Street location will be set up for other services such as meals, hygiene needs, and counselling services.
“We have not been using this space (234 Brock Street) for the youth since the pandemic began as we are restricted to providing emergency shelter to six individuals in order to comply with Public Health restrictions in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. KYS has been using temporary spaces provided by the City of Kingston,” said Anne Brown, Executive Director of Kingston Youth Shelter.
The City was no longer able to provide KYS with temporary space at the beginning of March 2022, according to Brown, who noted that Queen’s University agreed to allow KYS to use the space at MacGillivray Brown Hall as a temporary space for youth to sleep until their new location is ready for occupancy in the fall. KYS has regularly been at full capacity throughout the pandemic, providing emergency shelter to 16 youth. Brown said that “at times, 16 beds have not been enough.”
In order to comply with Public Health guidelines, the shelter needs to have separations between the sleeping areas. Atkinson Home Hardware donated the design and the supplies to build the sleeping pods, and Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region donated time and expertise to build the sleeping pods. Brown said that the materials used in building the sleeping pods will be used again to build sleeping pods at the permanent location in the fall.
“We will continue to use the sleeping pod model in our permanent location, as it provides the necessary barriers to help prevent the spread of viruses,” she said. “The sleeping pods also provide some dignity to the youth by allowing some privacy.”
The local Habitat for Humanity branch was glad to offer support to the community that has supported them for many years, and was felt abundantly last month when nearly $4,000 worth of tools had been stolen from the construction trailer at the site of their current project. The community support allowed the team to barely miss a day of construction work before donations allowed them to get back to work on their Rose Abbey Drive project.
“Although Habitat sits at the other end of the housing continuum from emergency shelters, we believe that safe housing is important for everyone at all stages and always. Everyone needs a safe place to start and end their days, knowing they have safe shelter overnight,” said Cathy Borowec, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region. “Habitat’s involvement began just last week with me answering a call from Anne where she asked if we would be able to help them out by building sleep pods. It was a novel opportunity for us to help out another housing agency in our community and we agreed to pull together a team to do it.”
According to their website, the Kingston Youth Shelter provides “a safe environment for youth ages 16 to 24.” Beds are available on a “first come, first served” basis.
Brown shared that KYS is purchasing a building near the corner of Nelson and Concession Streets. “We will own it in July but will need to do some renovations before we move the youth in,” she said.
Kingston Youth Shelter projects their new facility will be ready in September.
Learn more about Kingston Youth Shelter on their website.