A popular charity furniture shop, which started as a resource to help out the flood of new Syrian refugees arriving in the region, is shutting its doors.
The Windsor Furniture Bank opened April 2016 in the former Science City building on Marion Avenue and quickly became a place for anyone in need, explained Bob Cameron, executive director of the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative, which established the bank in association with a group of local churches.
The City of Windsor has since sold the building and has asked the bank to leave by Aug. 15.
"Initially, a significant proportion of those using it were our new Syrian refugees," he said. "That has flipped now ... a higher percentage is folks who lived in the city ... and have found themselves displaced and needing help."
The bank works on a referral system. Agencies who knew people in need of furniture would refer them to the service, allowing them to make an appointment to see available items.
Roughly 500 households — more than 1,300 people — have used the bank since it opened. Furniture distributed include dressers, kitchens tables, chairs and beds.
Backlog of clients
Samir Danho was translating for a newly arrived family from Iraq when CBC News visited the Windsor Furniture Bank on Tuesday. He was shocked to hear that the furniture bank was closing.
"What are those people going to do," he asked. "Where are they going to get the money? How are they going to live? That will be really hard."
The Windsor Furniture Bank is not accepting any new clients between now and the Aug. 15 shutdown, opting instead to whittle down a three-to-four week backlog of people who have already signed up for furniture.
Leftover furniture will be given to organizations such as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the May Court Club.
Cameron said the future of the bank has not been determined.
"We'll have to take a deep breath and think of what the possibilities are — and what will be required ... to see if the furniture bank has a purpose in the future," he said.