Several years ago, we chose to focus on programs rather than renovating “bricks and mortar”. The results confirm our decision.
Families that enter Rotholme Family Shelter (Rotholme) are given the opportunity to choose to participate in our Housing Stability program which includes, among other things, assistance in finding housing and a continuing relationship between one of our caseworkers and the family once they leave Rotholme.
While many Londoners anticipate the arrival of bus rapid transit (BRT), a wonderful unintended consequence arose from that project: the opportunity to provide housing for several families.
In June 2018, we began a “pilot project” with the City of London that allowed us to lease one City-owned house along one of the proposed BRT corridors and sublease to a family we had served in Rotholme. Today’s joyful news is that the pilot project worked so well that we are currently leasing eight houses from the City to sublet to families.
All told, nine families have benefited, with one family successfully moving on to rent-geared-to-income housing, freeing up their home for another family. In addition to the eight families we are currently supporting in our leased houses, our housing stability workers are supporting 27 other families in their homes throughout the city.
It is essential that Housing First includes supports for individuals and families after they have obtained housing, and that support needs to be available for as long as it takes, with no time limits. Since January 1, 2017, 42 families have successfully transitioned to their homes and no longer need the regular and frequent support of our housing stability workers. This is not to say that all connection necessarily stops, as we attempt to retain neighbourly contact and connections.
This Christmas season, we celebrate that since November 1, 2019, we have housed 46 families that sought shelter at Rotholme. These numbers may not sound like much, especially when compared to the need in the city and we certainly make no claims to end family homelessness. However, for each of the families that we have the privilege of befriending and getting to know, having a home with supports is a “game changer”. We may not change the world for everyone, but we do change one family’s world, today, and into the future.
Mission Services of London, Rotholme Family Shelter—engaging families, building community, serving community—loving God, loving others.
Written by Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director