GoFundMe created after fire in Hamilton transitional housing leaves 5 residents with ‘nowhere to go’


Published April 21, 2022 at 9:07 pm

A fire on April 18 caused significant damage to the Hamilton location of The Bridge: From Community To Prison organization. Five residents also lost most of their belongings. (Hamilton Fire Department photo)

A crowdfunding effort has begun to support a Hamilton not-for-profit and five of its clients — whose work to build better lives after being incarcerated was affected by a fire.

On Monday, a three-alarm blaze caused what Hamilton Fire Department described as “significant damage” at 319 Barton St. E., which is the location of The Bridge: From Prison To Community (Hamilton) and the transitional housing where its clients live and receive vital supports. According to a GoFundMe page, all five are now unhoused.

The Bridge is a not-for-profit that has been active in Hamilton and Halton Region for more than two decades. Per its website, it aims to “facilitate community reintegration and reconciliation for men in the justices system and their families through advocacy, education and restorative justice.”

One person who was home when the fire began around 3:21 p.m. self-evacuated and did require hospital medical care. However, a GoFundPage page says smoke and water damage has ruined the belongings of all five residents, who have been working to re-integrate into civil society.

Organizer Maja Rehou said the fundraiser, which has a goal of $10,000, will help Hamilton chapter of The Bridge and the affected clients.

“They were left with nothing more than the clothes on their backs,” Rehou says of the men who were affected. “The shelter system in Hamilton is completely full, and they now have nowhere to go.

“People supported by The Bridge: From Prison to Community are people who have been recently released from prison and are looking to turn their lives around. They are people who have faced and continue to experience many systemic barriers that include racism, colonialism, poverty, mental health, addictions and a lifetime of trauma. The Bridge provides transitional housing and reintegration support to these individuals to help them get their lives back on track with food security and meal programs, ID, financial assistance, clinical counseling, intensive case management, and employment.

“These residents were employed or going to school, and one had also just gotten a full-time job last week. They were on track to move their lives forward and through no fault of their own, they are going to lose all of that because they have nowhere to live.

“Please join me in making a difference? I’m raising money to benefit THE BRIDGE FROM PRISON TO COMMUNITY (HAMILTON), any donation whether it is $5, $20 or $50 will help make an impact.”

So far, just more than $1,000 has been raised from 18 donations.

Further information about The Bridge’s programming and mission is available at hamilton-bridge.ca. The organization also has a Halton chapter in Oakville at Suite 2, 125 North Service Rd.

(Cover photo via Hamilton Fire Department.)

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