In the summer of 2001, a group of youth activists and homeless individuals formed a tent city in a downtown park to raise public awareness of a desperate situation. The community experience that developed led to the initiation of the Unity Project – a shelter service with a peer-supported community model. With the support of hundreds from every walk of life and a generous grant from the City of London the Unity Project was able to purchase and open its facility in the heart of Old East Village in London Ontario. Since then, Unity Project has been a consistent contributor in providing vital social services for London and area and helped thousands of men and women to approach stability and restore wellbeing.
With the emergence of Housing First in the previous decade and a greater emphasis on supporting housing stability among homeless serving organizations, Unity Project recognized the mandate of emergency shelters must expand to provide services that prevent experiences of homelessness. We developed an Emergency Shelter Housing First Toolkit in 2017 to outline a Housing First Emergency Shelter Model and inform the re-design of our services to create a direct path from homelessness to housing for shelter residents. In 2018, Unity Project transitioned to operating fully as a housing focused emergency shelter using this comprehensive, innovative model that helps residents secure and maintain stable housing.