$79K grant used to help young men in Windsor-Essex with housing retention

Photo from left to right: Mark McKenzie, City Councillor, Ward 4, Robin Swainson, Constituency Assistant for Lisa Gretzky MPP Windsor West Brian Worrall, Past President of The Windsor Residence for Young Men Scott Duquette, volunteer for Ontario Trillium Foundation Jason Weinberg, Executive Director, The Windsor Residence for Young Men. (Photo supplied by WRFM.)

Over 100 formerly homeless youth received housing support during the pandemic thanks to a grant given to the Windsor Residence for Young Men (WRYM).

On Friday, several community leaders including Robin Swainson, the constituency assistant for Windsor-West MPP Lisa Gretzky, along with Ward 4 Councillor Mark McKenzie met with the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and the team at WRYM to discuss the $79,500 Resilient Communities Grant they received from the OTF.

The grant was used to help youth who once struggled with homelessness, retain shelter throughout the pandemic and its aftermath. WRYM said the grant was used as part of a 12-month project that has operated for 10 months so far, supporting 102 young men so far as they rebuild their lives after the trauma of homelessness while COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the globe.

“The impact of this Ontario Trillium Foundation grant cannot be understated,” said Jason Weinberg, Executive Director of The Windsor Residence for Young Men. “We refuse to just house these vulnerable youth and expect all of their needs to be magically resolved.”

WRYM said it was able to use funds to adapt its aftercare program based on each client’s needs. The project also addressed practical needs such as food acquisition, tenancy issues and landlord engagement to help youth keep their housing.

The organization, which supports at risk young men between the ages of 16-24, also gave support to fill the gaps caused by a lack of natural support systems, where family would play a role in supporting young people as they develop, solve problems and grow into adulthood.

“We are talking about individuals who have been through extensive trauma and often experienced family violence or abuse, not to mention the loss of their traditional developmental experiences due to the pandemic,” added Weinberg. “This Ontario Trillium Foundation investment has allowed us to keep supporting youth once they are housed, and prevent repeated homelessness, rather than respond to it. It’s about prevention.”

The OTF is an agency of the provincial government that invests in community-based initiatives to help strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. Last year, the foundation invested nearly $209-million into more than 2,000 projects and partnerships which included the province’s Community Building Fund.