A Kingston-based family emergency shelter recently celebrated its tenth anniversary in the community, celebrating a “positive milestone” after two of its most difficult years.
The shelter is run by HomeBase Housing and provides short-term emergency accommodation and, when at capacity, can house families in hotels.
Over the past six months, Lily’s Place has supported over 75 people.
HomeBase Housing communications and fundraising coordinator Katherine Cooper says the shelter seeks to help families who use the services find stability.
“It’s really about figuring out how families got here and how we can help them in the short term,” Cooper said.
“But also give them that long-term stability they’re looking for.”
For many families, the need for shelter is not their fault and is a morbid reality of the housing crisis.
A statement from HomeBase housing says there has been a noticeable increase in landlords selling their rental properties and asking tenants to vacate, which has the effect of depriving families of their current living situation.
Kingston, which saw the strongest increase in housing prices in Ontario last year, is no stranger to this.
One family who used Lily’s Place, pictured above, had exactly that experience.
“Our landlord let us know that he was selling his house and that we had to move out…Finding affordable housing was very difficult,” the family said in the statement.
“The owners told us that they had received hundreds of requests… We came to Lily’s Place because we had no more options for our family. Lily’s Place is a nice family setting with supportive staff.
The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Kingston is $1,821, with larger families looking for three or four bedrooms facing average costs of $2,200 and $2,595.
A number of the more affordable options in Kingston have also had huge issues with building standards, further limiting options for families.
HomeBase says Lily’s Place programming is designed to help families achieve financial stability and housing supports in a safe environment.
Cooper said the only way to solve the affordable housing crisis is to build more homes, but in the meantime families need support and spaces like Lily’s Place fill that gap.
She says the definition of affordable also needs to be reconsidered.
“Especially in this very strange time of rapidly inflating costs and expenses, housing is one piece of the puzzle in terms of how many things are no longer affordable,” Cooper said.
“The average rent for a 3-bedroom…is between $2,200 and $2,500. So if you are a single income family, this is not feasible regardless of your education or employment status.
Another gap that Lily’s House has worked to fill relates to some of the barriers that different family structures face, with Cooper noting in particular that people are often surprised at how often a single-parent household is headed by a man.
The release says 90% of families supported by Lily’s Place so far in 2022 have had a grown male in the family structure.
Lily’s Place is located on Kingscourt Avenue, information can be found here.