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Community of Hope Blog

Council vote secures future: February 2016

by Kathryn Hill

History was made in February 2016 when Toronto City Council voted to approve the plans for a purpose-built family shelter at 875 Queen St. E. as part the new development by Harhay Developments.

The current family shelter, church and pharmacy building will be replaced with a mixed-use building of condominiums, retail units and the purpose-built family shelter.

Red Door leadership with Mayor Tory and Councillor Fletcher

Campaigners celebrate when council approves financing: May 2015

By Kathryn Hill

Save the Red Door campaigners celebrated in May 2015 when City Council voted to approve the financing for a new purpose-built shelter at 875 Queen St. E. as part of the new development by Harhay Developments.

This means that the Red Door can continue providing family shelter services at the same Leslieville site where we have successfully served the community for over 30 years.

Rows of people wearing red door t-shirts at a council meeting

Developer steps up: March 2015

by Kathryn Hill

Bernnitta Hawkins of the Red Door Family Shelter, Councillor Paula Fletcher and developer Chris Harhay made a very special announcement on March 9th, 2015.

Harhay Developments had purchased the site and all parties had agreed to pursue a way forward so that a permanent home for the family shelter could be part of the new development.

“These services are very important to the community and it’s important that we preserve them in the locations that they are.” Chris Harhay, president of Harhay Developments.

Bernnitta Hawkins, Councillor Fletcher, Chris Harhay seated at press conference

Crucial win at City Hall: June 2014

by Kathryn Hill

On June 11th, 2014, Council was presented with our petition and voted unanimously to approve Councillor Paula Fletcher’s motion to help secure the long-term future of the family shelter.

This gave great hope. Executive Director, Bernnitta Hawkins (retired) said: “It says very clearly that our funder is supporting us, and that’s very important. This gives us a foundation underneath us when we go into negotiations.”

Council chamber with board showing yes votes

50,000 people sign Save the Red Door petition: June 2014

by Kathryn Hill

More than 50,000 people signed the Red Door petition stating that a refuge for homeless families is more important than condos and demanding that Toronto City Councillors do everything they can to Save the Red Door. said it was the most successful local petition they had ever seen in Canada. We were delighted with the support and felt confident that it would make a difference.

3 people signing the Save the Red Door petition

Popular City Champion throws his support behind Red Door: April 2014

By Kathryn Hill

Former Toronto Mayor David Crombie, Toronto's beloved 'tiny perfect mayor,' has been a vocal supporter in the fight to keep the family shelter open.

In 2014 he headed a leadership team reaching out to all levels of government for support. He spoke passionately at our community meeting on April 7th, 2014. He became Honorary Chair of our campaign to raise $3M to equip the new family shelter.

David Crombie speaking at podium

Hundreds of supporters unite: April 2014

By Kathryn Hill

Worried by news that a developer was doing a deal to buy the family shelter site by the end of July, the Red Door held an emergency community meeting at Ralph Thornton Community Centre on April 7th, 2014.

We were delighted with the turnout! More than 300 citizens packed into the room to rally around the shelter. Loud and clear the community said that no developer could build condos where a shelter for families in crisis had stood for over 30 years.

Large crowd seated at the community meeting

Former shelter residents respond to news of possible closure: March 2014

by Kathryn Hill

When news of the possible closure of the Red Door's family shelter became public, former residents of the shelter spoke out.

Olay teared up as she said: “When I came to Canada I had no one. But the Red Door Shelter took me in. They are my family, like my mother to me. They made me believe that anything I could dream, I could achieve. I would not be here today without them. It pains me, like a death in the family, the death of my mother, to think Red Door might not be here on Queen St. to help others.”

Kozeta Izeti, former shelter resident, speaking at podium

Future of emergency family shelter at risk: March 2014

By Kathryn Hill

In March 2014 the Red Door announced the shocking news that our 106-bed family shelter was at risk of closure.

The site at 875 Queen St. E. had been sold by the owners to a developer who had then gone into receivership. The land was up for sale to any buyer who could pay and they didn't have to care about the family shelter or the people who need it.

In response the Red Door Family Shelter got ready to fight back!

Exterior of original family shelter building