Posted on: December 14th, 2023. Posted by: YorkRegion Staff, yorkregion.com, Original Article.
Blue Door Support Services provides housing, health and employment support for those experiencing homelessness in York and Durham regions
With the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, inflation, shortfalls in housing and social issues such as mental health problems being experienced by so many, poverty, hunger and homelessness are affecting more people than ever in Canada.
Blue Door Support Services has been around for 41 years, and its assistance for those in need of housing support is more critical than ever. In the past few years, it has expanded its mandate to include transitional housing support, health supports, wraparound supports, and more to reduce chronic homelessness by tackling the root causes. Blue Door’s CEO Michael Braithwaite explains, “We want to break the cycle of poverty through affordable, supporting housing, equal access to health care and meaningful, well-paid employment.”
There are a number of programs available through Blue Door, starting with emergency housing for individuals and families.
“Emergency housing is 24-7 care, which includes food, lasting from a day to a few months. As this is only temporary, we immediately get to work on their housing plan. Ultimately, we want them to have dignified and affordable housing and a key to the front door,” explains Braithwaite. Blue Door runs the Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold program seven days a week from October to May, at various faith locations across York Region — where people can receive a warm meal and place to sleep.
“We also have transitional housing,” Braithwaite continues. “Passage House has 18 units for adult men where they can stay up to a year in a one-bedroom apartment. To live there, they pay rent geared to income, also known as RGI, and they have supports wrapped around them while we help look for permanent housing in the community.” Blue Door’s focus on transitional housing has grown, and similar programs are available for 2SLGBTQ+ youth, vulnerable families, new Canadians, seniors and youth who require longer-term wraparound supports to help overcome barriers to permanent housing.
Blue Door is committed to reducing all barriers to housing, including addressing any health concerns. Housing to Health helps people experiencing chronic homelessness to secure housing in the community and provides various supports to retain housing. The program is supported by York Region, United Way and Blue Door, along with local partners LOFT and Krasman Centre. Last year, this program secured housing for 30 of its hardest to house community members.
With the support of TD Bank and York Region, Blue Door also has Health Hub to help people deal with health concerns, regulate medication, and get them in touch with other health-care professionals. In collaboration with Southlake Regional Health Centre, Blue Door has also introduced an In-Reach worker so those in need are not discharged from the hospital into homelessness.
Finally, Blue Door has introduced a very successful social enterprise, Construct. “It’s a full-scale construction company with a training side to it. Over the past three years, we’ve brought close to 400 people through the training program where they get hands-on experience with the trades and certifications so they’re ready to go into apprenticeship programs and earn a living wage,” explains Braithwaite.
“The people who rely on Blue Door who are experiencing homelessness are parents, brothers, sisters, friends — people dealing with unfortunate circumstances and fall into homelessness. Sadly, there are many pathways to homelessness, but not as many out,” says Braithwaite. “We’re seeing more and more people working full-time who are finding themselves without a place to call home. Our goal here is to help find a way to lift them out of poverty.”
Blue Door relies on the support of the community, and by visiting the website you can make a life-saving donation or contact the team to see how you can get involved. “We are very solutions oriented, and our community can be part of the solution as well,” says Braithwaite. To find out more about the work that Blue Door is doing, the different ways you can help, and to make a donation, visit BlueDoor.ca.