Most people seeking emergency shelter at the House of Friendship in Waterloo Region are facing addiction and health challenges. They are staying longer in the shelter, and it can take many attempts before an appropriate housing solution is found. Housing shortages, the opioid crisis and disjointed health and social service systems only increase those challenges.
The Beyond Shelter Solutions Lab wants to re-imagine a community-wide approach to helping those experiencing homelessness. It will question current methods of emergency housing and health care and develop holistic new ones. Those innovative solutions will then be tested in the House of Friendship’s own shelter and across the Waterloo Region.
Key Findings / Key Goals
Develop new and holistic solutions to serve people experiencing homelessness that help them find lasting housing solutions sooner.
Improve understanding of the health care needs of people experiencing homelessness in Waterloo Region.
Create partnerships and new methods of working among those providing emergency shelter and social and health care services.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Defining and reframing the problem
House of Friendship’s emergency shelter in Waterloo Region plays an important role in the housing journey of people experiencing homelessness. It can be hard to achieve successful outcomes however, even through a Housing First approach. People stay an average of 44 nights in shelter, and rehousing can take up to six tries before it’s successful. Severe housing shortages and the opioid crisis only make things more difficult.
This Lab brings together providers of emergency shelter and health and social services through outreach and collaboration events. It will also include groups that are not generally part of such discussions, such as academia and the tech sector. Together they will define and reframe the problem, and they will brainstorm potential solutions and ways of integrating activities.
The Lab process is rooted in human-centred design and a collaborative approach to problem-solving. It involves 5 phases:
- The Definition Phase will articulate the problem with stakeholder analysis and causal analysis. Participants will be trained in tools used during the Lab.
- The Discovery Phase seeks to understand stakeholders and the problem through methods such as interviews, discussions and system mapping.
- The Development Phase will involve co-design activities to help stakeholders think in new ways to create solutions to the problem.
- The Delivery Phase will see participants learn by building and testing prototypes. The prototypes will help the Lab evaluate how people might experience a possible solution. Learnings from the prototypes will help shape the design principles.
- The Roadmap Phase will prepare the Lab for implementation. It will produce a strategy for moving forward that reflects on what has been learned and shares learnings more broadly.
Two design cycles
Some problems can be addressed at the service level, but others face systemic factors. That is why the Lab involves two design cycles: one at the service level and one at the systems level. The second cycle will build on what was learned from the service solutions created for the House of Friendship shelter. Those learnings will then guide later work throughout Waterloo Region.
Project Team: House of Friendship
Location: Waterloo Region, Ontario
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Inner City Health Alliance
- Region of Waterloo
- Adult-serving shelter network (YWCA, Cambridge Shelter Corporation)
- Grand River Hospital
- St. Mary’s Hospital
- Brock Solutions
- Overlap Associates
- KW4 Ontario Health Team
- Overlap Associates
Get More Information:
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this lab.