Over 200 living rough in Hamilton engaged with outreach in December, says city

Photo of an encampment in Downtown Hamilton, Ont. in Sept. 2023. Global News

Hamilton’s Housing Division says it interacted with some 217 people living in encampments through its outreach team as of the end of December.

During an update on the city’s homelessness crisis, housing director Michelle Baird says that number is five less than what was calculated in November.

Baird said a total of 66 different encampment sites with people unhoused were identified through “various modalities” last month.

“What I would say is, overall, the numbers of new sites being identified is lower than it was previously,” Baird told a committee on Wednesday.

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“However, the individuals that are in encampments at this point in time have complex needs and it’s been somewhat challenging and takes a bit more time to work with these individuals.”

Of some 37 sites, 27 public property and 10 private, outreach and municipal law enforcement issued 20 trespass notices on public property in contravention of the city’s encampment protocol.

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That’s lower than the 2023 average of 64 sites that saw trespass notices, which have declined every month since implementation of the protocol moving from 126 in August to just 42 in November.

Complaints and requests for service from the public have also decreased month over month from a high of 897 in September to 410 in December.

In mid-August, councillors approved a protocol that allows just five tents on public land as long as they’re not within 100 metres of playgrounds, schools and other sensitive uses and meet certain health and safety requirements.

Groupings of five tents will have to be at least 50 metres apart from each other, 10 metres away from private property and 50 metres from park amenities.

As of December, city staff say more than 1,600 people were without a home in Hamilton.

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