This is the next story in our series highlighting some of the amazing work being done by our team members.
Joan and Emily run the Health & Wellness aspect of the Breaking Barriers program at CONC’s new 140 room hotel shelter in Rexdale. The program can be accessed by clients 7 days a week, 12 hours per day. Joan and Emily work with clients from the moment they begin intake, meeting with each person to assess how they can house them quickly and successfully. Housing is an important first step because it has been proven that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed.
Since the program began in August 2020, Joan and Emily have housed 2 people successfully. This may seem like a small number – but considering the low supply of affordable housing in Toronto, and the intense competition for the few spots available – this is an amazing feat!
Joan and Emily work with people who are considered to be “chronically homeless”. Being chronically homeless means that they have been homeless for a minimum of 6 months. However, the majority of clients they see have been homeless for more than 2 years. This happens for a number of reasons, but Joan and Emily believe that the largest barrier they face is the stigma that people moving from shelters have to endure when contacting landlords.
The team combat this stigma by working closely with the landlords they contact to come up with ways that CONC can structurally support a smooth and successful move. This part of the work is called “eviction prevention” and is usually the most important part of the process. Their wish is for this stigma to one day disappear because everyone deserves a chance to thrive.
An aspect of the work that Joan and Emily enjoy is getting to connect with people and hear their stories about why they became homeless. This is because within these stories, usually lies a road map to success. Even seemingly insurmountable issues can be solved by breaking them down and taking things one step at a time.
We are proud to have Joan and Emily as a part of the CONC team!