North House is a not-for-profit charitable organization who supports the North Durham townships of Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge through their mission of providing a spectrum of housing supports for those who are at risk or in crisis in North Durham. Established in 2004, North House has been assisting the low-income residents of the community as well as the most vulnerable who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
In March, the world was turned upside down. 2.6 billion people in our world went into self-isolation. The impact on us is immeasurable and involves the loss of so many things. COVID-19 has greatly affected the day-to-day lives of our community, but more specifically, the most vulnerable individuals are facing greater barriers. As we continue to maneuver through the daily changes during this pandemic, we worry about our seniors and our homeless. We are all trying to do what we can to keep them safe and free from the feeling of desperate isolation.
North House has always focused on housing, but in response to COVID-19, North House felt the need to make a slight shift in order to help meet the needs of our community. North House outreach staff prioritized both their senior and homeless clients, past and present to ensure their safety and to help to alleviate anxiety and isolation where they can. Completing over 133 wellness check-in calls during March staff identified the gaps in services within Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge townships.
Individuals contacted indicated that food insecurity is their biggest concern. Access to food has been an obstacle to many due to transportation restrictions, health-risks, lack of funds and mobility concerns. Accessing a food bank has been a challenge as many individuals have restricted mobility or those with chronic illnesses are at greater risk if they access a public space during the pandemic.
As a result, North House has been delivering healthy food boxes weekly to those seniors who need it. Weekly, on Fridays, the North House outreach team travels throughout North Durham delivering food, checking in and staying connected to the community.
North House has had the opportunity to work with several individuals who were either unsheltered or were living in inadequate conditions and help them apply and move into a new building in Cannington. Some of these individuals have been unsheltered for several years and have had no place to call their own in a very long time.
Once the apartments were secured, North House, through their Community Share Initiative, put out a call to the community for gently used items to help fill the apartments. The community came together in true “North Durham” style, donating several large items such as beds, couches, dressers and tables. With the support of partnerships with local Lions clubs and churches, people volunteered to help pick-up and move the items into the building. With the help of this great community, our newly housed neighbours have somewhere to call home.