Just minutes after midnight on Thursday, the Buddy Bus arrived in Port Hope from its long journey from Windsor.
The Buddy Bus is the creation of Jordan Stevenson, founder of BuildX in Port Hope.
Stevenson bought the 2004 Windsor transit bus in a online auction and McCracken Towing brought the bus to the BuildX facility located on Hamilton Road in Port Hope.
The bus arrived shortly after midnight on Thursday, January 19, 2023 and Stevenson, his dog Buddy were there to greet it as it pulled in.
Stevenson said, the bus, “is a unique solution to our community’s constantly evolving and deepening homelessness crisis.”
The idea was born out of frustration with the lack of effort from the Port Hope decision makers regarding homelessness.
Stevenson had a warming room at his business for approximately two months, but after a medical emergency with one of the people, he knew it was time for something else and came up with The Buddy Bus.
Starting work just hours after it arrived on Thursday morning, Stevenson hopes to have the bus converted and roadworthy within a month.
It will then be used as a mobile warming room/outreach center and a warm safe space to rest at night with 10 sleeping pods, a small bathroom facility and a outreach office.
The office will be available for other agencies like, addictions counselling along with mental health support.
Stevenson said he’s working with Northumberland Hills Hospital’s outreach team which will be utilizing the space within their scope and practices.
“The goal is to have a nightly pick-up with a warming room aspect.”
The bus would circle around to hot spot areas where homeless people might be – then park for the night and provide overnight sleeping accommodations.
The Buddy Bus will be used year round and not just through the winter.
“As part of a broader attempt by our organization to stem homelessness within various touch points and create a more holistic approach to the entire system and partnering with local agencies to do so.”
It’s called The Buddy Bus which is named after Stevenson’s dog who he adopted from the Northumberland Humane Society after it was there for almost three years.
“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.”
Stevenson said he hopes to have renovations completed within a month, but that all depends on the $20,000 fundraising goal.
“It’s based on the need and government services aren’t responding to that appropriately in our opinion. There needs to be better solution, so time is of the essence.”
A non-profit arm of the BuildX company called, “The BuildX Community Response Team”
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.
“It’s been a week coming and unfortunately with weather delays, it’s taken a bit longer than we’d like to get bus in hand, but super thankful to McCracken Towing has been able to get this down here for us and we’re super, super excited to get started on it.”
For those wishing to donate https://www.gofundme.com/f/buddy-bus?qid=1f521aa5cc9755857cef68fa7df663e0