Client Experience: Blue Door October 19th, 2020
About the Organization:
Blue Door is the largest emergency housing operator in York Region serving the area for 30 years, in the capacity of rapidly rehousing those experiencing homelessness and connecting them with health, employment, and aftercare supports. Blue Door currently operates three shelter facilities in the York Region: Leeder Place (for families), Porter Place (for single men), and Kevin’s Place (for youth males aged 16-26).
As one of the only facilities in York Region offering emergency shelter for single men, Blue Door approached Endeavour for help with conducting robust research of best practices to enhance its range and delivery of supportive programming for the immediate and ongoing needs of residents at the current Porter Place location and for future men’s housing programs and sites.
Michael Braithwaite, CEO of Blue Door explains, “When we approached Endeavour we asked – what are the best practices throughout Canada, and internationally, around men’s housing, what can we implement now, and what are the possibilities for the future? Overall, what we really wanted from the team was to support us with research, talking to experts, and to come back with a plan that could give us information so we could set up an operational plan moving forward.”
The objective was to conduct local, national, and international sector research to propose recommendations for a short-term pilot at Porter Place which would inform long-term strategies for future emergency housing programs.
To sort through all the research and potential options, Endeavour consultants worked with the Blue Door team to develop a prioritization framework to closely assess the most relevant strategies that could best support Blue Door’s residents with their immediate and longer-term housing needs. Through the application of the prioritization framework, six key areas were identified:
- Improving the health and wellbeing of residents
- Housing-retention support focused on eviction-prevention
- Discharge vulnerability assessment
- Housing resiliency
- Peer support
- Skill development and employment readiness
Paulina Helinska, Endeavour Engagement Manager for the Blue Door project noted: “We actually had a long list of I think 28 recommendations, and so we developed a prioritization framework with different criteria and different scores. Some of us on the team worked on developing the framework and criteria, and then the other half of us took time to rank the recommendation based on our perception, how each recommendation scores on each of the criteria, and so on. Based on that, these were the top recommendations that we came up with.”
The team also explored opportunities for future housing developments or growth that could better target the specific needs of different clients. These include focused partnerships for groups such as Indigenous or senior residents, increased programming space that could support the development of a drop-in centre, expanding health support services for substance abuse treatment and harm reduction, and segmentation-focused triaging.
After Endeavour consultants presented their research and recommendations to the Blue Door team and their stakeholders, Blue Door announced that they had received a grant near the tail-end of the project, that would help them to further the research and groundwork laid out by Endeavour. Blue Door CEO, Michael Braithwaite, notes that this funding opens the possibility of taking this project to the next level and pushing this work forward.
On working with the Endeavour consulting team Michael Braithwaite noted, “We started with a group of people that knew nothing about this field and this sector, and by the end, they were well-versed speaking the language. These are not housing experts, but these are professionals… A dedicated, smart, and well-versed group that I would highly recommend working with.”
Blue Door is a nonprofit in the Greater Toronto Region and a former client of Endeavour Consulting for Nonprofits. Read more about Endeavour’s probono services at: https://endeavourvolunteer.ca/non-profits/
Written by: Lia Pizarro