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A Strong Sense of Community Contributes to Stability for Tenants

A Strong Sense of Community Contributes to Stability for Tenants

Posted Jul 12th, 2019 in News & Updates, Housing Crisis

A Strong Sense of Community Contributes to Stability for Tenants

Coffee Time is enjoyed weekly by tenants of Kenmore Court, our permanent housing building in Niagara Falls.  


In April, one particular Coffee Time gathering was more special than usual. Celebrating the retirement of long-time superintendents, Dave and Betty Kelley, brought everyone together in the Community Room. A tenant-initiated celebration thanked the couple for their wonderful care of the building over the last five years, complete with coffee, cake and speeches.

Kathy Fraser, Housing Manager for Bethlehem, was sorry to see the couple leave the position but happy to have them continue to live in the building.

After Coffee Time, the fun continued well into the afternoon with a friendly game of Bingo. Social activities are often facilitated by our onsite Community Support Worker Yvonne. Card games, crafts, and summer BBQs are very common. Yvonne believes that it’s through community participation in recreational and social activities, both onsite and in the community, that our tenants can build the necessary social support networks for gaining stability in their lives.

For Bingo, Yvonne uses a phone app with an entertaining British voice to call the Bingo numbers for those gathered in play. The result was a lot of eye rolling and giggles from the group. Yvonne keeps a creative supply of prizes on hand to choose from, including hand crocheted dish clothes made and donated by one of the residents. This is also a great opportunity for socializing. A plan for who gets to use the new washing machines first and the sharing of an intimate story of loss coincide with the Bingo activity.

Yvonne believes that providing these opportunities to socialize results in a lower tenancy turnover rate. Most of the people who move in here stay for a long time. Most of the people in the room today have been here for a several years.

Bethlehem Housing and Support Services makes an impact in Niagara by providing stable housing and improved quality of life for people facing social and economic hardship.  There are five key supports that BHSS combines to ensure long-term success for our tenants. These supports include, providing an adequate and affordable home, increasing a person’s ability to cope with life’s adversities in healthy ways, providing people with the skills and confidence to manage their own finances, supporting healthy child development and parenting, and equally important, assisting people to build social networks and become socially supported through integration.

Yvonne also enjoys facilitating a crafting group, which focuses on using art and crafts to provide opportunity for self-expression, relaxation and the development of stress management tools. This Group is offered monthly in Kenmore and Genesis Court respectively.  She has also coordinated social outings to theater performances during The Foster Festival at the FirstOntario Preforming Arts Centre, in St.Catharines.

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