Blue Door is the largest emergency housing provider in York Region. To enhance their current service offerings and meet the emerging needs of service users, Blue Door partnered with Hub Solutions, a social enterprise of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH). The main objective was to develop a new supportive housing program based upon transitional housing. Transitional supportive housing is a type of intervention that provides a supportive living environment focused on skill development and community building. In most cases, transitional supportive housing is viewed as a step in the housing continuum that supports individuals and families to move from emergency crisis services to long-term permanent housing. The program will be geared towards men in York Region experiencing episodic and chronic homelessness.

“The study completed by COH on the future of men’s supportive housing in York Region, has provided Blue Door with critical information to better meet the needs of men experiencing homelessness in York Region, both in our present-day work and as well as we plan into the future. Having good information is so impactful in making real change happen as we work to prevent and end homelessness in York Region.” - Michael Braithwaite, CEO of Blue Door

This evaluation was informed by two main research questions:

  1. How can Blue Door better support men that are experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness through place-based housing?  
  2. How can Blue Door better support the health and wellness needs of men experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness?

How did we do it?

Hub Solutions undertook a mixed-methods approach utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to answer the evaluation questions. Specifically, Hub Solutions reviewed previous consultative work, conducted a rapid literature review, as well as distributed three surveys—one to Blue Door staff, one to current service users of Blue Door and one to former service users. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with current and former Blue Door service users. 

The results

Blue Door service users and staff identified 5 major barriers to access housing and services in the region which included:

  1.  A lack of affordable housing and financial resources
  2.  Mental health challenges
  3.  Substance and alcohol use challenges
  4.  Physical limitations
  5.  Racial and disability discrimination from landlords 

The top 5 service barriers for service users identified by staff were: 

  1. Mental health challenges
  2. Substance use challenges
  3. Unaddressed trauma experienced in their life
  4. Alcohol use challenges
  5. Physical health limitations. 

Based on the findings from this evaluation, 21 short-term, medium-term, and long-term recommendations were developed by Hub Solutions. Priority recommendations included:

  1. Designing the program to be strength-based, harm-reduction focused and tailored to each service users’ needs
  2. Developing a transition plan for service users exiting the program 
  3. Assisting service users to secure independent housing prior to exiting the program. 

As well, the expansion of Blue Door’s community partnerships and accessibility to these community connections for service users was marked as essential by Hub Solutions. 

Read the full evaluation report here.

If you are interested in Hub Solutions services, find more at: