Annual Report 2021
September 2019 – August 2020
We all tire of hearing words like pandemic, pivot, and unprecedented. But they’re appropriate words to mark this past year.
In September of 2019, we had just opened new programs in London and Woodstock, and were looking ahead to another period of growth—of continuing to support current tenants; completing, advancing, and beginning new projects to serve more people; and expanding into new communities.
In early March of 2020, with the pandemic looming, we prepared for the worst. Providentially, a year later, we are continually thankful for many of the blessings that came out of our shared adversity. This report highlights some of these expressions of grace. Particularly in light of the pandemic, we exceeded our expectations.
Sometimes it’s more difficult in an annual report to talk about the hard things, but we want to honour these too. While we’ve been amazed at the resilience of so many of our tenants, the effects of the restrictions and physical distancing have taken their toll. Our people-tenants and staff-are tired, even exhausted, but continue to work together to keep each other safe.
A parallel, complicating event that reared its ugly head during this time is the opioid crisis, which has been devastating for people who are vulnerable to exploitation. The ripple effects have been felt by neighbours, friends, staff, and all who were close to those we’ve lost and those who continue to struggle. If you pray, please remember all who grapple with substance use and addictions.
In addition to the effects of the pandemic on people’s mental health, homelessness has become more visible, and wait lists for affordable housing continue to grow longer. In our work, we’re regularly confronted by injustice and the effects of trauma that are too often part of our tenants’ stories.
We don’t pretend that homes, support, and community are instant solutions; but we remain convinced that a home-plus the support of community-is the foundation of hope. When we find a place of safety and rest after times of difficulty, there is room for hope to be received and offered. The apostle Paul alludes to this when he explores the journey from suffering to hope with the early church in Rome (Romans 5:4 – the Bible).
When we have the opportunity to pull together a report like this, we’re humbled and grateful for everyone who makes this ministry possible. From our staff teams, to all those who donate generously, to volunteers, to community partners, to government bodies, and to neighbours-you make this all possible.
2019–2020 in numbers
Of the 160 volunteers that were active before the COVID-19 pandemic, 75 of them—nearly half of all volunteers—re-engaged or re-connected with tenants!
Recently, we added Cross-Regional Teams to enhance each program’s on-site supports. These teams gather regularly with staff from across our program regions to facilitate resource sharing, plan and implement education initiatives, promote and raise awareness of emerging issues in the Indwell community, and integrate care consistently throughout the entire organization.
Deep and wide: growing and progressing to build new communities of hope
As Ontario began to enter lockdown last March, there was much uncertainty in the building industry. Would our construction projects come to a halt? While we did run into some supply chain issues at times, thankfully, our projects were considered essential, and with new health and safety measures, we could continue to build affordable housing that is so desperately needed.
Not only was “continuing” an option, though – the pandemic highlighted the significance of the housing and homeless- ness crises and compounded the need for Indwell’s work in providing affordable and supportive housing. Acknowl- edging the human suffering that has expanded because of the pandemic has also opened new opportunities form Indwell to deploy public and private investments into longterm solutions.
In August of 2020, we opened North End Landing in Hamilton, in partnership with James North Baptist Church, bringing an additional 45 new affordable apartments to the city (with another program about to open a few months later). Several other projects were launching around the same time, with over 750 units either in development or being planned!
We consistently receive calls from municipal leaders, churches, and other potential partners seeking solutions. The pandemic has been a night-mare for so many people, but we’re thankful that, in some cases, it’s expedited opportunities for those who are in crisis.
Adapting supports: a peek inside our Woodstock programs
The varying stages of lockdown and restrictions due to COVID-19 impacted tenants’ mental health and, for some, struggles with substance use. Like all Indwell programs, Woodstock’s Blossom Park and Harvey Woods Lofts communities implemented changes to ensure tenant and staff safety while still encouraging connection.
Re-imagining volunteer engagement
In September 2019, Indwell had 160 active volunteers! Then, “COVID happened.”
During the March 2020 lockdown, all on-site volunteer activities were suspended to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. It wasn’t long before we began to feel the effects of lockdown and the void of skill, togetherness, and companionship from our dedicated volunteers. We began to reimagine what volunteering could look like during a pandemic.
Addressing racial justice from the inside out
One of Indwell’s three core values is ‘Dignity’- the recognition of each person’s inherent value as an image bearer of God. In 2011, this value drove us to seek out the teaching of civil rights leader Dr. John Perkins and open the Perkins Centre in Hamilton. In 2019, this value encouraged us to better understand the challenges and needs of Indigenous people in Ontario and commit 20% of our units at Hamilton’s McQuesten Lofts to our Indigenous neighbours.
Over the past year, the death of George Floyd, the public attention on honouring Black lives, and our experiences of racial injustice within the homeless sector challenged us to ask how we can maintain a posture of pursuing justice for all. Alongside conversations in our teams, a racial justice working group was created to ensure that our faith continues to inform Indwell’s commitment to racial justice. With this group’s leadership, we will remain committed to honouring each other and remembering God’s heart for all people.
Our tenants: people of resilience
Showing off our model
As an Indwell partner and supporter, you are transforming lives! Not only are you showing love to our neighbours by providing supportive, affordable housing communities, but you’re giving your time and resources to an organization that has become a leader in the pursuit of restorative communities where people experience health, wellness, and belonging.
In early 2019, Indwell received a grant from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to showcase our unique model as part of the National Housing Strategy’s Demonstrations Initiative. As part of this project, we developed numerous resources that demonstrate our model and equip other organizations, our staff, volunteers, and tenants to make the most of our high-quality housing and supports.
Future Indwell Communities
A heartfelt thank you to the many individuals, businesses, churches, community associations, and service groups who partner with Indwell to provide hope and homes. Your gifts, prayers, and words of encouragement are vital as we welcome tenants into their homes, equip staff, build caring communities, and break ground for new programs.
In addition to the capital funds we received for projects this past year, we also received $1.6m in operating donations. We are so grateful for the continued generosity of so many, even through the uncertain times of the pandemic.
We deeply appreciate the working relationships we have with the many organizations, community and family foundations, politicians, municipalities and their staff, and civil servants at the federal and provincial levels with whom we collaborate to end homelessness.