YMCA Hearthstone Housing pilot project creates four transitional housing units in Kingston

The YMCA of Eastern Ontario reports it has been working with local partners to develop solutions for the affordable housing crisis in the region.

The Hearthstone Housing pilot project is a partnership among the Y, CaraCo Development Corporation, the City of Kingston, and Tipi Moza that saw four affordable housing units created in the newly built apartment building at 11 Wright Crescent.

“The desperate need for affordable housing is at critical levels in Kingston as it is across the country,” said Rob Adams, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario.

“In Kingston, the wait list for affordable housing is the greatest among the Indigenous population. This pilot project creates new partnerships that will see not only housing, but resources and supports provided to participants to help them develop the life skills needed to maintain stable housing. The work we do with Tipi Moza will ensure that supports are delivered in a culturally sensitive way.”

According to a release from the YMCA, as part of the Y’s Hearthstone pilot, CaraCo has been an enthusiastic partner, stepping up to provide a rental discount for the four new units, while Tipi Moza is the referring agency. Kingstonians may be familiar with Tipi Moza as the organization behind Tsi Niwakenonhsote, which provides transitional housing to vulnerable Indigenous people who have experienced homelessness in Kingston at its Lower Union Street location.

At the Wright Crescent development, the City of Kingston is partially offsetting rental costs through its rent supplement program, and tenants will cover the balance of the rent through social programs, the YMCA stated.

“CaraCo is pleased to partner with Tipi Moza and the YMCA on this important initiative and we look forward to welcoming the residents into their new homes,” said Blake Leew, Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the CaraCo Group of Companies, in a statement.

Winnie Peters, Executive Director of Tipi Moza, added, “According to the 2021 Point-in-Time Count by the United Way KFLA, homelessness has disproportionately affected the Indigenous community.

“Although only 3.4 per cent of the Kingston population self-identifies as Indigenous, 31 per cent of those experiencing homelessness self-identify as Indigenous,” Peters said in a statement.

“Today, Tipi Moza oversees more than 55 units within Kingston along with a 19-unit transitional building. Even with this, the need is not being met and we welcome the opportunity to partner with the Y.”

In response to Kingstonist’s inquiries, Colleen Gareau, Director of Marketing and Communications for the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, stated that the four units at the Wright Crescent location are already occupied.

“Four persons from Tipi Moza moved into their new Hearthstone units yesterday (Wednesday, May 29, 2024). These individuals were referred to the Y by Tipi Moza,” she shared. “Four people from the Tipi Moza wait list (persons who are currently unhoused) have moved into or are moving into the Tipi Moza building.”

The YMCA of Eastern Ontario has a history of providing transitional housing in Kingston, the organization noted. According to the release, as programs and services evolved over time, the need for housing services had declined, however, with today’s growing urgency for affordable housing and the Y’s broad and deep experience in housing (including expert knowledge at the provincial and national levels), the Y is once more stepping up to provide housing for marginalized persons.

“The Y has been in conversation with the City of Kingston, our provincial and national counterparts, and local housing providers over the past few years to identify local needs and where we might best play a role in this housing crisis,” Adams explained. “It is our expectation that we will grow our program to further support vulnerable individuals in our community.”

The YMCA stated that this pilot goes beyond housing; the organization will set tenants up for success by providing wrap-around supports in the areas of fitness, mental health, and life skills.

According to the release, each tenant will receive full membership to the YMCA, along with workshops that include financial literacy, conflict management, personal responsibility, organization, self-esteem, healthy relationships, gambling awareness, mental health, and wellness. YMCA staff will also reportedly be available as touchpoints for residents to make referrals to other social services as appropriate, including but not limited to mental health services, Kingston Food Bank, Lionhearts, utilities and other available funds, and tax services.

Tipi Moza along with Y partners Lionhearts and the Kingston Food Bank have already played an important role in making these units homes by helping to provision them with furnishings and food, the YMCA expressed.

“It’s a great example of many organizations coming together and using their areas of expertise to make this a reality,” Adams said.

In the release, the YMCA said it welcomes discussion with developers who may be interested in helping them expand the Hearthstone program.

“The Y welcomes queries from developers and landlords to discuss partnerships that would offer other affordable units to residents living in transitional facilities who are ready to live independently but with supports. We hope to expand the program through similar arrangements as we have with the partners of this pilot project,” Gareau stated.

When asked how local residents can support affordable housing initiative through my YMCA, Gareau provided a few options:

“As a charity, the YMCA of Eastern Ontario has an annual fundraising campaign which people can donate to and designate funds to go to specific areas of our work. Additionally, people can support affordable housing initiatives by letting their elected officials know of their support generally but also when such initiatives are being planned and implemented,” she expressed.

To support the YMCA, visit their donation page here: https://eo.ymca.ca/donation-form

One thought on “YMCA Hearthstone Housing pilot project creates four transitional housing units in Kingston

  • I applaud the Y and Tipi Moza for their endeavours. It shows the community that smaller initiatives can make a big difference particularly on those individuals most in need of supportive housing.

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