A Way Home: Supporting Durham Residents Without Shelter

The Region of Durham, along with other levels of government, is looking for new opportunities to support vulnerable residents seeking shelter and housing in the Region. The Region purchased the former Sunnycrest Nursing Home, now referred to as 1635 Dundas, as part of a system of supports to assist those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The Region has been legislated by the provincial government to co-ordinate the homelessness support system and help address increasing homelessness across the Region. According to a May 2023 report to the Region’s Health & Social Services Committee, the number of people experiencing homelessness was increased across the region, including a 144 per cent increase in Whitby from 2021 to 2022, which is where 1635 Dundas is located. Municipalities across Canada— including in Durham Region—need to find new opportunities for shelter, housing and services for vulnerable, low-income residents.

In the near-term, 1635 Dundas will provide emergency shelter with 45 beds to bring people indoors before the harsh, cold winter. Following best practices, the site will provide wraparound supports at the site, such as health care and employment services, and will remain open during the day, allowing people to stay indoors to receive the support they need and work towards their goals.

The longer-term vision for 1635 Dundas still needs to be shaped through engagement with community members. While 1635 Dundas has the potential to offer co-ordinated, holistic, and person-centred services for Durham citizens facing homelessness, the Region is planning to establish a community liaison committee to help create a positive path forward for all residents.

It is a common myth that homelessness is a choice. Often, homelessness is caused by many reasons and happens when all other options have been exhausted. This rings even truer now, as we face an affordable housing crisis. 1635 Dundas is just one of the Region’s many ways  to help those at risk or facing homelessness find their way back home.

To learn more, visit the Region’s dedicated 1635 Dundas Engagement Page for additional background information, frequently asked questions, and a newsletter to receive the latest project updates.

Danielle Pineda, IDEA Committee Member and Policy Advisor – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Division (Local Immigration Partnership), The Regional Municipality of Durham.