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'There's such power in a story:' new podcast looks at lives of homeless in Barrie, Ont.

A new project seeks to take listeners inside the lives of homeless people living in Barrie, Ont.

This past winter saw a major spike in the number of Barrie residents sleeping in shelters

A new podcast aims to take listeners inside the lives of people experiencing homelessness in Barrie, Ont. (David Donnelly/CBC)

In a bid to raise money to build housing for the homeless, a Barrie, Ont. organization is hoping that people are willing to open their ears. 

Redwood Park Communities, a charity that provides affordable housing through partnerships with local agencies, are launching a new podcast called 'Stories without a Home' on Thursday.

In an excerpt taken from the first episode, a woman who struggles with homelessness tearfully describes a painful part of her past.

"I was a missing person for 9 months," she tells the interviewer. "I was trafficked for all that time."

Redwood's fundraising campaign aims to raise $3 million to build a new family housing and support centre for families in crisis.

Tim and Rhonda Kent, co-founders of Redwood and the creators of the podcast, say that the Barrie community is slowly becoming more aware of the prevalence of homelessness on their streets.  

"Up until this point they haven't had a face, they haven't had a story to them, and there's such power in story," Rhonda told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning

This past winter, the city saw an "unprecedented" spike in the use of their shelters, according to the director of a local women's shelter. The fast-growing city has also struggled with a lack of affordable housing.  

Redwood Park Communities, which has been working with families for 5 years, has been on the front line of that shift. 

For the Kents, the hope is that the new podcast series raises awareness and funding for those without a home. 

"Any one of these stories could be our story, and when we start to really sort of internalize that a little bit... it makes a difference," said Rhonda. 

The podcast will be available on the Redwood Park Communities Facebook page and website.

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