Launching our 10th Anniversary Keep A Roof Campaign

Released August 19, 2020 – St.Thomas

We often think of housing and homelessness as a big city issue, but homelessness does not discriminate, and occurs in small communities like ours every day. Experiences for those being homeless or at risk of homeless are devasting and fraught with trauma, violence, illness and neglect.  With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in February, the Fund Development Committee of YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin made the difficult decision to pause their Keep A Roof campaign as they responded to urgent needs within our community and quickly adapted programming in order to provide vital services virtually.

This pause also allowed YWCA time to thoroughly examine how the pandemic has affected those facing being at risk of being homelessness and poverty. In March 2020, 63% of job losses were experienced by women, and in May 2020, as the economy started to open up, jobs returned faster for men (2.4% increase) than for women (1.1% increase), as reported in A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan presented this month by YWCA Canada in partnership with the Institute of Gender and The Economy Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Also sited in this report, Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Maryam Monsef, has reported an increase of 20% to 30% in domestic violence rates across the country. The reality of these statistics can be seen on the streets of St.Thomas and neighbouring communities daily.

With a 1.6 % vacancy rate in St. Thomas and Elgin County and 743 people on our local social housing wait list, safe and affordable housing is an urgent issue. Individuals that have access to stable, affordable housing, along with appropriate supports, thrive, reach goals and experience wellness.  Because of this, the YWCA offers safe and affordable housing with supports to women, men and youth. This support is delivered by Housing Based Case Managers who support residents with system navigation, in-house and community program referrals and intensive case management to improve housing stability.  Residents receive stable housing and support services such as emergency food and toiletries, life skills training and goal setting that leads to improved health, wellness and economic security.  In addition, YWCA offers poverty intervention programming, such as workshops, case management and skill development to help individuals, community organizations and social service agencies to address and reduce poverty. Throughout our global pandemic these services continued to be provided in new innovative ways with the use of technology and virtual supports.

Keep A Roof Coordinator, Sarah Lounsbury, explains YWCA’s compassion for our loyal donors and local businesses who support this annual campaign. “We understand that many families have been hit hard this spring with job losses, business closures and major changes to their daily life, but you may also have noticed how great the need is for those who are already part of our vulnerable population.” Every dollar counts and you can help Keep A Roof Over Their Heads.

 Proudly sponsored by myFM 94.1.

For more information about affordable housing, homelessness and poverty in your community visit the Keep A Roof Website.

Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made in-person during regular office hours at 16 Mary Street West, by cheque via mail or online directly.


Sarah Lounsbury

Keep A Roof Coordinator




St. Thomas and Elgin vacancy rate as of August 2020

Our local social housing wait list

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