Our Home First Community Support Program has stepped up in a big way to support clients during COVID-19, ensuring those receiving rent subsidies not only have a roof over their heads, but enough to eat as well.
Partnering with the York Region Food Network, they requested that food drops be deemed an essential service, in order to meet a demand that has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic.
Food security is an ongoing issue for many clients in our program, and staff have been checking in regularly to ensure clients have access to the food and groceries they need. Many clients are finding it harder to go outside to shop as a result of the pandemic – because their age or health puts them at increased risk, or because it’s difficult to obtain or afford masks and gloves. Many clients have a history of chronic homelessness and don’t have credit cards to enable to them to order food online, so find themselves in a particularly challenging position.
Having designed strict hygiene and physical distancing protocols the program was able to take the prepared food that York Region Food Network delivered to the Aurora office and using staff volunteers, deliver it weekly to clients in need. This involves going into the Aurora site at staggered times to collect the food, ensuring that staff have proper PPE, use rigorous sanitizations routines and conduct contactless deliveries to over 40 people.
CMHA staff have adapted at speed to the new way of working, taking on new responsibilities such as designing efficient delivery routes and packing delivery bags.
In addition to the food deliveries, the team has successfully moved nine people out of chronic homelessness and into their own apartments, as of May 20. This is a significant outcome at the best of times, but represents a real success at a time when sleeping in shelters, couch surfing or living rough dramatically increases the risk of exposure to Coronavirus.
Congratulations to the hard working and dedicated Home First Community Support team, for their tireless support of clients with complex needs.
How can you help?
- The Home First Community Support team is looking for one bedroom and bachelor apartments for clients experiencing homelessness. If you know of landlords with properties to rent, please get in touch.
- Clients’ benefits begin to run low at the end of the month and this is when food insecurity becomes more likely. Please consider donating to a York Region or South Simcoe food bank and the York Region Food Network at this time.