The John Street bridge is the first stop for Christeen Thornton and Daniel Cullen who are members of DIRE — Direct Intervention Reaching Everyone — in their weekly walk along the creek in an effort to reach out to Durham’s homeless. They hand out granola bars, bottles of water, harm reduction kits with clean needles and alcohol pads as well as information pamphlets with resources for the poor.

Thornton began this outreach work after stumbling onto an area dubbed “tarp mansion” while hiking with her partner in June.

“We realized this is a much bigger problem than we thought,” said the longtime anti-poverty and housing advocate. “Homelessness is a Canada crisis at this point.”