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.
by Alison LaMantia, Redwood supporter
After having the chance to chat face to face with Rhonda, Director of Housing and Family Support at Redwood Park Communities, I walked away wondering how some people become so full of goodness.
I thought how interesting it’d be to study people like Rhonda so we can understand more about what leads to such selfless humanity.
I’m curious because I think we need more of that in our world — more whole-hearted, non-judgmental love for all humans.
We are very happy to share this guest blog post by Noelle Kirk, where she shares about her personal experience volunteering with Redwood.
Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying “Only a life lived for others is worth living” and I couldn’t agree more. Over the last 5 years, my role and involvement with Redwood has been a varied one. I have cleaned apartments, delivered food, gathered clothing or donations (and served as a very unqualified stylist), washed dishes, babysat children, eaten delicious food and shared many a cup of coffee or tea.
One thing that has been constant however, is that many of my best memories have been made, and continue to be made, over food and around the table. Whether it was stirring chocolate over a stove during an Easter chocolate making event or drinking coffee and holding babies while sitting around the living room at United House, I have so many beautiful memories of food and community.
One could wonder, why would Redwood start its own Furniture Bank?
We've got not just one good reason, but two.
Later this month, Redwood will launch Barrie's first YIMBY week, and all YIMBYers are invited!
YIMBY stands for "Yes In My Back Yard" and it is a social movement that has risen up in cities all over North America to combat NIMBYism, or "Not In My Back Yard."
Most people agree that homelessness is a shame, and that affordable housing needs to be developed, but some people say, "Yes, somewhere else, but not here."
(You know, YSWEBNH ...just kidding, that's not a thing.)
The YIMBY movement looks a little different in each city. In some places it involves activism around zoning bylaws. But we think the REAL reason people don't want "other" people in their neighbourhood is because they just don't know them yet.
This is a guest blog post by Linda Paisley, Real Estate Sales Representative.
When I initially meet with real estate clients, the conversation can often turn to questions regarding Second Suites. Buyers are interested in the option for a second income, and sellers are curious about boosting the resale value of their home. I can speak to both benefits, as well as the value to the community when we increase affordable housing options.
This is a guest post by Sara Peddle, Executive Director of the David Busby Centre.
Every day people impact their community in many different ways without even realizing that they have done so.
I - Inspirational
M - Movement
P - Positive
A - Action
C - Community
T – Together
The motel conversion project at the former Barr’s Motel has been a collaborative labour of community love for the last couple years. As we drew close to opening the doors to provide safe and affordable housing for individuals experiencing long term homelessness, we needed a name for our project worthy of it’s vast importance in our community.
We engaged people who have had experience in homelessness to weigh in with their thoughts for naming this building. It did not take long before a theme emerged.
Heartbreakingly, we have lost way too many people experiencing homelessness over the years, but one person had made particular impact on the community as a whole.
Doing this work, we've learned a lot about homelessness. Coming face to face with individuals has sometimes challenged our unconscious ideas of what homelessness looks like. Sometimes, still, we come up against some misconceptions that can distract from the solutions to the affordable housing crisis, and be downright harmful. Here are a few myths about homelessness.
Myth #1: It Costs too Much to End Homelessness
Actually, it costs too much to leave things as they are! In 2013 The State of Homelessness in Canada reported that Canadian taxpayers put out $7.05 billion on services used by individuals experiencing homelessness (emergency shelters, police and medical services, and the criminal justice system). In Simcoe County's recent enumeration individuals reported using emergency services an average of 21.7 times in a 6 month period. A 2005 study showed jails and hospitals cost $66,000-$120,000 per person per year, and emergency shelters as much as $42,000. In contrast, transitional and supportive housing costs $13,000-$18,000, and affordable housing only $5,000-$8,000. Although there would be an initial cost at the outset during the overlap of services, the overall benefit is clear.
Myth #2: Affordable Housing Will Ruin My Neighbourhood
Let's face it. We have enough property to end homelessness. But a large number of people don't want to do anything about it. Yes, if it goes somewhere else. But "not in my backyard"! Yet there is no evidence to suggest that affordable housing does anything to lower property values or raise crime rates—the two major concerns for homeowners. An overwhelming number of studies found no impact on property values or even increased values. And increased crime was not a significant factor either. This is true especially where the design of the housing aesthetically matched the surrounding neighbourhood and where there was strong property management.
Myth #3: Homelessness is a Choice
This is a tricky one. Each person is responsible for their own choices, and there is certainly an extent to which those choices can affect an individual's ability to be housed. But looking at the data from the homelessness enumeration report, there are trends that show up—obstacles that seem stacked up in the way of escape from homelessness. Close to a quarter of people polled had emerged from the foster care system, having experienced homelessness already by that point. Another quarter were fleeing domestic violence, faced with the impossible choice of staying housed or gaining personal safety. 20% were youth aged 13-24, and of those 29.5% identified as LGBTQ+. 35% struggled with their mental health, and a staggering 70% with issues affecting their physical health. Combine those obstacles with a serious gap in earning, high rental prices, and lack of affordable housing, and the system seems designed to keep individuals homeless despite their best efforts to rise out of poverty.
So what can we do in the face of all this? We can start dispelling these myths, for a start. We can set an example each in our own small way by welcoming new affordable housing in our neighbourhoods, building open community with individuals different from ourselves, donating to initiatives that support affordable housing options, and speaking up for legislation and budgeting that works to alleviate poverty and homelessness.
For more information, check out these resources: