All communities are shaped by their history.  Kenora has always been a meeting place - a place for people to come together for the purposes of trade, socialization, negotiation and relaxation.  Over time, meeting places become settlements.  As populations increase, the use of public space and resources becomes more and more of an issue.  The tri-municipal area now has a population of approximately 25,000 and serves as a centre for another 51,802 regionally.  There is a significant marginalized population present in Kenora.  Many initiatives have been undertaken to meet the needs of this population, but issues linger.  As community, Kenora is no longer willing to accept this socio-economic dichotomy within its midst.

Within the last decade, Kenora's economy has eroded due to the loss of many full-time employment positions and dwindling of its industrial base.  The social safety net is in tatters after multiple reductions in funding for support programs.  Welfare payment rates have reduced by 22%.  There has been no expansion of social housing and the subsidized housing wait lists now span years rather than months.

Kenora's homeless population peaked at 125 individuals following the Adam's Block fire in January 2006.  At the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum, the local chronically homeless population has increased by 29%.  There has been a loss of 60 single room units (SRO's) that served the low end of the housing market within the previous 3 years.  In addition, there is a larger population of under-housed citizens, those living in overcrowded, unsafe or inadequate accommodations because there are no other affordable housing options.  The nationally accepted projected rate for under-housed citizens is 14%.  In our community there are an estimated 3,500 individuals with inadequate housing.

Homelessness is a multilayered issue requiring community collaboration and capacity building to develop an adequate continuum of care that will be sustainable.

The Adams Block fire was a catalyst for community action.  Immediately an informal group began meeting at the Kenora Fellowship Centre to discuss options.  Other groups carried on the conversation in different arenas.  By the summer of 2006 a steering committee that included representatives from social services, policing, business, education, municipal government and the legal community as well as other local activists and leaders was formed.  A community forum was held September 11, 2006, and was well attended.  The following day, a two-day workshop initiated the beginning of a community plan.

The inaugural meeting of Making Kenora HOME was held at the Kenora Community Legal Clinic on September 20, 2006.

Making Kenora HOME 2006-2012 - A Visual History (PowerPoint Presentation, 127 MB)