History of Cornerstone

In 1983, a small group of people began to recognize that there were women living on the streets of Ottawa with no permanent place to call home. A few temporary cots were placed on the basement floor of All Saints Anglican Church in Sandy Hill. The plan was that these women could stay overnight in the church and out of the cold; "just until a real solution was found." The new organization called itself the Women in Crisis Project.

In 1986, Martha's, a twelve-room house was built to provide a more permanent home for the women who were regular users of the shelter.

The need continued to grow, and in 1989, a 20-apartment, permanent housing community was opened at 515 MacLaren Street.

In 1994, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa and the Region of Ottawa-Carleton jointly opened a 36-bed emergency shelter at 172 O'Connor Street. Since then, 19 beds have been added to the shelter, reflecting the recent acknowledgment of homelessness as a "national disaster" in Canada.In 1999 the Women in Crisis Project changed its name to Cornerstone/Le Pilier. This change came as a response to residents' desire that their skills and determined work toward their life goals and possibilities be reflected in the name of the organization.

In 2000, we opened McPhail House, a cooperative supportive living community for six more women.

Thirty years later, we have four thriving communities, each full at all times. The Women's Shelter provides short-term accommodation for up to 55 women per day. More than 60 women use our shelter every day. 362 different women stayed at Cornerstone's shelter in 2011. 10-15 women are turned away daily due to lack of space. The average length of shelter stay is 103 days.

515 MacLaren provides long term supportive housing for twenty-one women. McPhail offers long term supportive housing for six women living cooperatively. 314 Booth Street provides 42 self-contained apartments in an affordable supportive housing community. Twenty apartments are geared for seniors and the remaining 22 are for other younger women who have experienced homelessness in their lives.

We continue to grow and develop along with the women we serve.

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