We’ve all heard about the affordable housing crisis in our communities. In every corner of Ontario, the cost of rent has skyrocketed, and the town of Leamington is no exception. According to Leamington’s Bridge Youth Resource Centre (The Bridge), 47% of renter households in Windsor-Essex are spending 30% of their income or more on rent. Furthermore, households in the bottom third of renter income distribution (households with income below $23,990) are essentially priced out of the rental market, with only 10% of available units affordable to them.
SleepingOUT is an annual fundraising event held by The Bridge, this year on October 20. Participants and teams are challenged to sleep outside for one night with only a sleeping bag and some cardboard. Each participant and team will raise critical funds to keep the lights on and the doors open at The Bridge, so they can continue to provide services to underhoused or homeless youth in the Leamington area.
Ken Hildebrandt, an Account Manager in our Leamington Branch, will sleep out in support of The Bridge for the fifth time this year. He recalls that last year was particularly challenging due to heavy rainfall that night. “Different groups sleep out in different parts of Leamington – some kids sleep out at the high school and some folks sleep out at their church – given the conditions, the real challenge is getting any sleep at all,” notes Ken.
Ken appreciates how this event supports an important cause while also helping to build community throughout Leamington with many different groups becoming involved. Local government, along with businesses, and neighbourhood groups all get on board; and they typically raise over $100,000 each year. Last year was exceptionally successful with a total of $184,000 raised in one night!
The Bridge serves young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years of age, providing assistance with housing, food security, schooling, and employment. What originally started as a small program in a church, has now expanded to include transitional, supportive housing.
Ken has set an ambitious goal of raising $4,000 for The Bridge, which he hopes will “make the ground a little more comfortable,” on October 20. If you would like to support Ken as he sleeps out for one night to raise critical funds to help Leamington’s youth, please click here.