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Blue Door shelters opens Newmarket duplex for vulnerable older men experiencing homelessness

December 7, 2023

Posted on: December 7th, 2023. By: Lisa Queen,, Original Article.

Youth and adults in Construct employment program work on renovations

Older men make up 60 per cent of York region’s homeless population, but often struggle to find services.

Now, a new duplex in Newmarket is supporting five older men needing housing, thanks to the United Way Greater Toronto and the federal government’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.

Funding was provided to Blue Door shelters’ Forward program, which offers tailored support to help older adult men find accessible and dignified independent housing.

Blue Door used the funding to buy and renovate the duplex, which was unveiled Nov. 24.

The house will give older men experiencing homelessness access to safe and accessible supportive housing.

“Having a stable, safe place to live, with the supports residents need, is the first step towards a new life, lived with dignity,” United Way president Daniele Zanotti said.

The Forward program was launched in 2020 through support from P. & L. Odette Charitable Foundation, which provided funding to rent a three-bedroom house in Newmarket. It was the first supportive housing in York region dedicated to empowering older adult men in dire need of accessible and dignified independent housing.

Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite thanked the donors for helping the organization care for some of the community’s most vulnerable residents and creating lasting positive change.

Ottawa’s Reaching Home empowers organizations like Blue Door to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity in our communities, Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen said.

“Projects like Forward help members of our community remain independent while ensuring they have accessible, safe and secure places to call home,” he said.

The Forward program serves as a beacon of hope as our aging population contends with escalating living costs, often pushing older adults into homelessness, Van Bynen said.

Once they experience homelessness, older people are faced with barriers to housing, including limited incomes and physical and mental health issues, which require more time to overcome than the typical 30-day stays in emergency housing, according to Blue Door.

Forward offers longer-term stays and personalized case management, empowering older men toward better health, education and employment prospects, the organization said.

Youths and adults in Blue Door’s Construct program worked on the duplex’s renovations, gaining valuable hands’ on experience to secure jobs in the trades, Emily Rowe, director of expansion and employment at Blue Door, representing Construct said.

“As Blue Door’s social enterprise, we are committed to empowering individuals grappling with barriers and preparing folks for full-time employment in the trades,” she said.

“The dedicated team of professionals and trainees at Construct played an instrumental role in ensuring the Forward house will provide safe, accessible and dignified housing for decades to come.”

By hiring Construct to complete the necessary renovations, the project benefit both program participants working toward employment and the vulnerable duplex residents, Braithwaite said.

“As we celebrate this remarkable milestone, I am reminded of the profound transformation our Forward program and Construct have ignited,” he said.

“The collaboration, dedication and unwavering support from partners, stakeholders and volunteers are a reminder that together we can and will build a brighter future free from homelessness.”

For more information about Forward and Blue Door’s vision for the duplex, visit