Operator of Beaverton Supportive Housing shelter selected

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Published September 28, 2023 at 10:54 am

Durham Region has chosen the company that will operate the long-in-development Beaverton Supportive Housing building.

They’ve selected the charity Blue Door following an extensive process. Blue Door has been in the field of ending homelessness since 1982. They already operate 10 other programs like the one coming to Beaverton in Durham, York and Peel Regions. These programs aim to alleviate homelessness by addressing their root causes via housing, employment and health programs.

The Beaverton Supportive Housing building will be home to 47 currently unsheltered people and provide them with round-the-clock mental and physical health treatment services. “Transitional supportive housing helps residents physically and mentally, providing the life skills necessary to successfully transition into permanent housing,” the Region wrote.

The units have been in the works for several years causing no small amount of controversy along the way. Following extensive pushback from some residents about the building, Brock Township blocked the construction of modular buildings like the supportive housing through a by-law.

This in turn prompted a lawsuit from the region which claimed the block amounted to the illegal practise of “people zoning,” or zoning based on who people are rather than what kind of home they live in.

Ultimately the Region and the Township were able to come to an agreement which featured numerous concessions for Brock. These included increased surveillance on site, a 30/20 split between homeless and improperly housed people, a full-time cop in town, a requirement for residents to engage in services and a family doctor for the town.

However, the delays caused the project budget to nearly double thanks to inflation and a rise in construction cost thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the budget increased from $13.5 million to $25 million, or 86 per cent.

Finally, after all the drama, the doors are set to open by the end of 2023. Residents will be phased in gradually with priority going to people who are currently homeless and from North Durham.

Homelessness in Durham’s rural northern reaches has increased dramatically in the last few years. In 2022, the charity North House reported the number of people they were helping skyrocketed from 177 in 2021 to 454 last summer. There are no shelters in the north save the yet-to-open Beaverton building.

“Now that Blue Door has been selected as the service provider, we are one step closer to move-in at the Beaverton Transitional Supportive Housing residence and helping people to get back on their feet. This project provides an opportunity to improve the life circumstances of a marginalized population in a healthy environment, and I look forward to the success stories that will come from it,” said Commissioner of Social Services Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou.

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