A new temporary youth shelter has been set up on the Queen’s University campus.

The move came while a new facility for the Kingston Youth Shelter is under construction.

The organization’s current facility at 234 Brock St. can only sleep six people under COVID-19 physical distancing rules.

Anne Brown, the shelter’s executive director, says they had to find other facilities to support the growing need for youth beds in the city.

The temporary shelter will be run out of McGillivray-Brown Hall until the fall, when the new building is expected to be completed.

On Wednesday, 16 sleeping pods were built for youth aged 16 to 24.

Brown says that will allow clients a bed, walls, and the space to be physically distant.

“This will allow youth to have some separation, some private space to sleep in, and make sure they’re off the streets at night, getting the care they need,” she explains.

The youth shelter has been operating out of a larger city-run space until recently, but had to find new accommodations.

She explained that it often reaches capacity and has even been forced to turn people away during the pandemic.

“It’s been pretty high demand,” she says. “Not certain why this demand has gone up so much. (It) could be people spending more time at home so family dynamic is breaking down more; could be any number of reasons.”

Habitat for Humanity donated their skills and time to build the pods for the shelter, while the materials were donated by Atkinson Home Hardware.

“It was easy for us to pull ourselves together, get the tools that we needed to do the job, and come do it,” says Cathy Borowec, CEO for Habitat for Humanity, Kingston Limestone Region. “The youth shelter folks do not have the experience building that we have.”

Donna Janiec, Queen’s University vice-principal for finance and administration, said in a statement the shelter provides critical services.

“Queen’s is committed to making a positive impact in the Kingston community. That impact happens when the university works in partnership with local organizations that are making a difference, like Kingston Youth Shelter,” she writes. “We are pleased that Queen’s was able to accommodate the Kingston Youth Shelter requirements by providing a temporary location.”