Red Door shelter finds a home

Future of family shelter had been uncertain since 2005

Red Door Family Shelter at 21 Carlaw Ave.
The Red Door Family Shelter is moving. Michael Chen/Toronto Observer

The Red Door Family Shelter has moved to a new temporary location at 1430 Gerrard St. E.

“We’re going to have a brand-new, purpose-built shelter in about three years, when the condominium is done,” Red Door executive director Bernitta Hawkins said. “That would the first time that we have a purpose-built shelter.”

The search for housing has not been easy.

Bernitta Hawkins and poster

Bernitta Hawkins, standing in front of a Red Door poster, says a new shelter will be built in three years.

The organization had been trying to find a new building since 2005, when the church that owned the family shelter closed, according to Hawkins.

After two separate deals fell through the group started a Save the Red Door campaign that garnered 50,000 signatures and as many emails to city councillors.

This drew the attention of the city.

It eventually agreed to build a new shelter at 875 Queen St. E. and lease it back to the Red Door for $1 a year.

Plans for the future

Now that the future of the shelter is stable, Hawkins says they can provide better services to the public.

Currently, Red Door offers a variety of services for people in their shelter, ranging from food gift cards to immigration support.

“One of the things that would be really innovative is for us to know which parts of those pieces … make the biggest difference,” she said.  “If we could raise enough money to be able to have psychological counselling for families, that would be a support as well.”

Hawkins doesn’t believe that just government funding is enough for most community services.

She notes that the Red Door Family Shelter will usually raise an additional $600,000 per year to shore up funding.

The Gerard Street location has 100 beds, which is enough to accommodate around 35 families.

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Posted: Feb 16 2017 12:18 pm
Filed under: News