When I started the non-profit After the Curb I never thought that one day I would be working as the Managing Director of Barrie’s first Furniture Bank. In fact, I didn’t even know what a “Furniture Bank” was. I had also never heard of Redwood Park Communities. I just wanted to solve what seemed to be a very solvable problem: my neighbours’ curb-side furniture was getting destroyed in the rain and snow while people entering housing for the first time or after a period of homelessness were starting out with nothing.
There are so many exciting things happening with the Furniture Bank these days that it warrants a whole blog post!
But first, a thank you. Two big funding approvals this year have allowed for this growth to meet the need in our community: a 3-year Poverty Reduction Collaboration Grant from United Way Simcoe Muskoka, and a capital grant we received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation at the end of 2019. That grant was for a vehicle for our Community Support Team and then also a cargo van and special trailer for the Furniture Bank. So thank you to both the Ontario Trillium Foundation and United Way Simcoe Muskoka for your support!
The Furniture Bank has been bursting at the seams for a few months now, and so we are very excited to have secured some new warehouse space.
This is a guest post written by our new Volunteer Coordinator, Tanya Saari. We are thrilled to have Tanya come on board to help us get more organized and make the Redwood volunteering experience the best it can be!
Innovation in Affordable Housing: Outcomes Purchasing 101: a new tool for building community housing
At Redwood, we have always valued innovation. And as we have mentioned, through this pandemic we have become even more laser-focused on creating safe, affordable, hopeful housing in supportive community.
Our community needs more affordable housing units, and we need to be able to provide the supports tenants need to stay successfully housed.
To address homelessness effectively, we need to take the best parts of what's happening at Lucy's Place and scale it up to meet the need in Simcoe County.
Sometimes items that arrive at our Furniture Bank warehouse don’t end up finding a home. Either they are a little rickety, too big, or just a wee bit out of style. One of the exciting things we are working on is establishing an upcycling space where these items can go from Broken to Beautiful (longtime Redwood supporters will recognize this theme from our United House construction efforts.)
Eventually, we see opportunities for Training and Employment, as well as a social enterprise component where pieces that haven’t been selected or are not a fit for families can be upcycled and sold to help sponsor furniture kit delivery for families.
In Toronto, they even rent these items to production companies for use on movie sets! Now that’s creative thinking!
While we work on setting up our Upcycling Centre (with support from our friends at the May Court Club of Barrie!), we'd like to challenge you to try your hand at upcycling at home. Back in June, we invited folks to “Drop Your Drawers”, a physically distanced furniture drop-off event.
So this month we want you invite you to “Restore Your Drawers” (oh dear, where will we take this next…)
It's hard to believe, but one year ago today, May 6 2019, was move in day for the first residents of Lucy's Place. After months and months of renovation, our Housing First Community, a first for Simcoe County, was ready!
As we round the corner into our second month of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we are seeing more than ever how interconnected our lives are. When people do not have a home to stay home in, we are all put at higher risk.
At Redwood, we often say that everyone deserves a safe, affordable, hopeful place to call home and that when that is the case, our entire community benefits. Our team is inspired to double down and make sure that the recovery plan from this pandemic includes housing for all, and that no one gets left behind.
So, this is an open call to investors, policymakers, philanthropists, and developers who want to partner with us to make this possible. Watch this video for more from Tim:
We want to share Redwood's response to COVID-19 with the community.
As you are aware, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and the responses that made sense even three or four days ago are no longer in line with public health recommendations. We will adapt as needed, following recommendations of the Simcoe Muskoka Public Health Unit, the Government of Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Taking care of our friends who live with us
Redwood's commitment is to provide safe, affordable, hopeful housing in supportive community. Here's what that looks like in a pandemic:
The end of a year, and in this case the end of a decade, is a natural opportunity to pause and reflect.
Six months ago, we started Redwood Furniture Bank.
Back in June, we put some excellent partnerships and supports in place, secured some warehouse space, and started asking for furniture donations. Soon, we were ready to start sending furniture back out the door to help people.