My name is Jordan, founder of BuildX and a proud resident of Port Hope, Ontario. My team and I are excited to be starting a gofundme to raise money for our latest community project, the Buddy Bus. After a person experienced a serious medical emergency at our existing warming room, we realized it was time to formalize a solution that was more sustainable. After some brainstorming and research, we came up with the Buddy Bus!
What is it?
The Buddy Bus is a unique solution to our community's constantly evolving and deepening homelessness crisis. We have acquired a retired transit bus and are converting it into a mobile warming room/outreach center for people across the community to access a warm safe space to rest at night. As well, it will be used in conjunction with local social service agencies to offer a variety of outreach services including housing support, mental health services, hygiene etc.
Why is it called the Buddy Bus?
Buddy is our new furry friend recently adopted from the Northumberland Humane Society after being in a shelter for almost 3 years. Originally starting out with us in the office as a part-time foster, Buddy quickly grew on us and became an integral part of the team. When we opened our emergency warming room, Buddy, almost as if acknowledging the struggles of not having a home, greeted folks in need and provided comfort. So it made perfect sense to name this project after a dog who has also had a difficult past and is now providing comfort and support to others.
Why a bus and not a physical location?
We chose a bus for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it allows access and deployment to the most amount of people as needs change. Secondly, due to various zoning issues, many ideal locations would not be permitted to host a warming room. The current warming room we have at our location on Hamilton Rd is technically in contravention of existing bylaws and therefore opens us up to fines by the municipality. While a physical location would be easier to operate and execute, for the sake of expediency we chose to go the mobile route.
Who will operate it?
As a company known locally for community outreach and involvement, we decided to open a non-profit corporation to continue our efforts in a more sustainable way. That's why we are launching the Buildx Community Response Team (C.R.T). The CRT will be a separate entity whose mission is to respond to social issues impacting the local community via effective and meaningful projects. With a dedicated team focused on key issues, we will be better able to serve those in need in a wider variety of ways. This also allows us to work sustainably by partnering with various community agencies, donors, and corporate partners to ensure projects are well executed and provided the resources they need to operate.
How will it work?
The Buddy Bus will operate on a regular schedule during set months. It is being designed to consist of a minimum of 10 sleeping pods, a kitchenette/lounge, a private outreach worker office, and a washroom facility. During the evenings the bus will be driven around to targeted hot spots and then park for the evening at a safe, central, location. Clients who choose to use the bus will be offered accommodation for the evening as well as washroom facilities and a warm meal. People are able to come and go during the night as they wish. The bus will then return via the original route to drop folks off if applicable. During the day the bus will be offered to various local agencies and charities to provide outreach services on a mobile pop-up basis.
In the event of a disaster or emergency, the bus will also be made available to local emergency response agencies for use by impacted victims. Such events may include large fires that impact apartment buildings, natural disasters, etc. If / when this occurs, the Buildx C.R.T will ensure continuity of services for any scheduled warming room operations to ensure no one is left behind.
How much will it cost?
The initial upfront cost of the bus has been made possible by previous donors to our community efforts. Having just been retired from regular transit service in the city of Windsor, it is a well-maintained unit ready for its second lease on life.
We estimate the cost of conversion is around $30,000, and through a combination of your support, and corporate sponsors/grants. We believe we can make that happen!
The cost to operate the unit year-round will come from the general operating budget of the BuildX CRT and will include staffing, maintenance, fuel, hospitality supplies such as meals and bedding, insurance, and any other incidentals. Something we estimate to cost around $150,000/year. The CRT budget is generated entirely through donations and grants and is directed right back into the community. If we are able to surpass our fundraising goal, we will direct all extra funds into a budget reserve dedicated to this project.
While we have already begun this project, we need your help to make it across the finish line and turn this into a reality. We are quickly exhausting our resources to make this happen and desperately need your support. Please consider helping us help neighbours in need!