Apr 12, 2024

The Housing Help Centre: Short on space but not on compassion  

The Housing Help Centre (THHC), located at Kennedy Road and Lawrence Avenue, has been a Daily Bread Food Bank member agency since 2022. What started as a way of supporting individuals and families facing issues of food access due to the COVID-19 pandemic, very quickly required a restructuring of the program to better meet the community’s rising needs. 

As their name suggests, The Housing Help Centre doesn’t just offer a food program. Their small but mighty team offers a holistic approach to support; helping low-income clients access rental housing, along with employment resources, and now, emergency food programs. 

THHC runs their food program twice a week on Thursdays and Fridays, from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. When their food program first started, they saw 38 clients, but over the last two years, this number has grown substantially, and the team now serves between 350 and 400 clients daily.  

“Issues like poverty or hunger really don’t discriminate – just about every demographic is represented here,” says Sabnavis Gopikrishna (Gopi), Executive Director, The Housing Help Centre. 

The increase that THHC has seen over the last few years speaks to the growth that has become apparent across the city, with one in 10 Torontonians now relying on food banks.  

In addition to rapidly growing numbers of clients, THHC also faces a unique set of challenges that the passionate team works hard to address. They’re on the second floor of a space intended to function solely as an office. When food deliveries arrive each Wednesday, their team of about five volunteers, and dedicated movers, help bring their food from the ground level to their space upstairs where the food program is housed. This can often take the team hours, as there is only one set of elevators, and a steep flight of stairs.  

Though their space is small, the team, led by Office Manager, Mary, and Food Bank Coordinator, Meseret, run an innovative and efficient operation. There’s not an inch of wasted space and the team of volunteers work quickly to serve the line of clients that often wraps down the office hallway. They’re committed to serving their clients, who they’ve formed such a strong sense of dedication to. 

To take some of the pressure off THHC, Daily Bread worked within the community to help facilitate the start of a new program nearby, but their number of client visits continues to grow. “Ideally, it should be need that is dictating the process, but here it is resourcing that drives it. We are hoping that we will be able to expand the program and make it more sensitive to the needs of the clients,” says Gopi.  

What does the future look like for THHC? Though that answer isn’t currently clear, one thing is for certain – this tight-knit team is dedicated to continuing to serve their clients and providing support to those who have come to depend on them. 

Daily Bread Food Bank is grateful to partner with 207 food programs across the city, like THHC, who not only play a critical role in providing access to fresh and nutritious food, but also foster integrated approaches to community support.  

If you would like to support programs like The Housing Help Centre, please donate today.

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