The Need

Bradford is currently limited in the services we have to assist homeless people. This was highlighted during COVID. 

In April of the pandemic I was asked if I knew anywhere a homeless person could get a shower. I called every shelter in Barrie, Newmarket and surrounding areas and everything was shut down. Shelters could no longer do new intakes or even let outsiders in their buildings. Within 24 hours of our Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CAO learning of the need, they came up with a solution. They opened the outside access doors into the bathroom and shower facilities of the old community centre off Simcoe Rd. two days a week. It was the only place a homeless person could get a shower during the height of the pandemic in all of Simcoe County. Within a week of offering the showers the deputy mayor suggested to some of the main community based service providers (A Helping Hand Food Bank, A Hand Up clothing room and the Community Meal) that we needed to provide these people with meals and clothing. Within two weeks meals were being provided in conjunction with the two shower days and the food bank and clothing room were working together to provide them with basic needs. As we connected more with some of the homeless people in our town, the deputy mayor suggested the idea of using an empty home the town owned to help provide temporary shelter. The home needed work and it wasn't possible for us to get it ready, especially with all of the COVID restrictions. Instead, homeless people during the height of the pandemic, when shelters were locked down, were connected with an agency that helped with the cost of hotels with some of the government funds allocated to them for this purpose. The problem was, and still is, a hotel is only a very temporary solution and funding is limited.  CrossTrainers worked together with WOW Living to help cover the cost of hotels and even connected one homeless person with a local family willing to house him while he worked on finding appropriate housing. But, it was next to impossible to find landlords who were renting during the pandemic, especially to a homeless person. There just aren't enough rooms and apartments for rent and because of this landlords have the luxury of being very picky and charging above market prices for rent. So where does a homeless person go and what do they do? 

The Vision

During an interview about the Out of the Cold Cafe I had the following conversation;

Interviewer: "Whose idea was this?" 

Me: "My team's!" 

Interviewer: "Who is your team?"

Me: "The under-resourced people I've been connecting with over COVID and listening to. They are the ones who came up with the idea and who are a part of the core team of volunteers." 

One of these team members said to me months back that it's really expensive to be homeless in the winter. In order for someone to sit inside they need to buy a coffee or something to eat. That's when we started talking about offering a FREE cafe. When it came to deciding the hours of the Cafe another team member suggested that it should be open 7 days a week, "because homeless people don't take weekends off." As we discussed the times for the cafe another team member pointed out that most Out of the Cold or Inn From the Cold programs require that clients leave around 8:00am and return around 5:00pm so we decided that The Out of the Cold Cafe should be open 9:00am-5:00pm consistently. We also began to dream big about providing a meal 7 days a week. That goal has become a reality with 3 business owners (Hay Caramba, Don Cherry's and another anonymous business man from Uxbridge) stepping up to provide a lunch a week. We also have 4 individuals providing other meals including soup and sandwiches other days of the week and Little Ceasars is providing day before pizzas any day we do not have a meal. Our Bradford community ROCKS!