Helping the homeless with Maple Key pods


With many homeless shelters lacking resources, more and more homeless people find themselves on the streets. MapleKey is a University of Waterloo social enterprise that is dedicated to creating a safe, secure, and private sleeping environment for the homeless community.

University of Waterloo student Julia Hiscock started this venture after seeing how traditional homeless shelters needed a reform.

“In 2015, it was one of the coldest years that we’ve had in Canada and two people passed away due to the extreme cold in Toronto. These were people part of the homeless population,” Hiscock said. “I felt that the resources were so lacking that literally these people died on the street and I felt that there had to be a better way to house these people than having them sleep on the streets.”

According to Employment and Social Development Canada, 95 per cent of homeless people don’t have a bed inside a homeless shelter.

The pods are individual sleeping cabins, similar to pod hotels in Japan and China.

“The technology had been developed for things like airports and budget hotels overseas. It just hasn’t made its way to Canada yet, so we are bringing that technology here,” Hiscock said.

When it comes to homelessness, Hiscock sees that it is felt all over Canada and in the U.S.

“Right now, a lot of solutions are either proactive or reactive solutions. So you either get help before becoming homeless or on your way transitioning out of being homeless, but there’s not a lot of help for people in the mist of being homeless,” Hiscock said.

According to Hiscock, making an impact on the community is important.

“We’re so blessed to have all of these resources available to us. I think it’s important that if you have the privilege of having all these resources, of all these opportunities provided to you, that you give back to the community.”


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