For immediate release
June 3, 2021 – Ottawa, ON - More than 100 of Ottawa’s most vulnerable residents will lose their shelter at the end of June if Cornerstone Housing for Women cannot find an interim site for its emergency shelter within three weeks.
The crisis is a result of COVID-19 triggering a surge in homelessness among women and gender-diverse individuals in Ottawa. The city — which funds Cornerstone’s emergency shelter — asked the organization to increase the number of women it cares for as winter neared, and arranged for accommodation at the University of Ottawa to ensure there was enough space for physical distancing to be maintained. Cornerstone opened there in December 2020, and quickly saw its numbers more than double, from the 60 women at its O’Connor Street location to 125 at the university.
“As we understand it, the increase in homelessness is primarily due to job loss, inability to stay with family and friends due to the pandemic, and the breakdown of partnerships during the pandemic,” according to Sarah Davis, Cornerstone’s Executive Director.
Now, Cornerstone has been asked to leave the university building a month earlier than expected and at the same time has learned much-needed renovations at the O’Connor site (undertaken because it was empty) will not be finished until December. Cornerstone, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa and the City have been working to find a solution, and are now appealing for help. Short term, Cornerstone is looking to anyone who can fill the gap and make interim space available for the shelter; long-term, it wants to see all levels of government, community partners and the people of Ottawa to renew their commitment to creating a shelter system and affordable housing Ottawa so desperately needs.
“We want to see the community rally around the vulnerable women of Ottawa, to ensure they have somewhere to live that’s safe, meets their needs and gives them the dignity they deserve,” Davis said.
Cornerstone Housing for Women is a community ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa providing emergency shelter and safe, affordable permanent housing for women, including seniors who can’t afford to live alone, woman fleeing abuse and new immigrants.