Much of the homeless population in Oshawa, Ont., is now scrambling to find a place to live as authorities have been evicting people from their tent communities, many unsheltered residents say.
Several homeless people told Global News that police, the city and security personnel have recently targeted areas where they’re clustered together to break up the shelters they’ve built.
“We built a couple tent cities and they destroyed those,” said Tony Lund, who claims that Durham police officers booted him and seven others out of the Oshawa Creek area Monday morning.
The place where Lund lived is an area in which hundreds of homeless people were staying in tents before they were allegedly evicted by authorities. There are some residents still living in the area, but many have now had to find somewhere else to go, he says.
“We were sleeping under the bridge, and they told us, ‘You can’t be there (anymore) so you have to move out,'” said Lund, who has been homeless for about a year. “The bridge is what protects us from the bad weather.”
As temperatures start to dip, many unsheltered people, including Lund, worry about where they will stay in the winter months.
“I fear there are going to be a lot more people freezing this year than there has been the last few years because there’s more people out here,” he said.
“There’s absolutely a chronic displacement issue in the city of Oshawa,” said Christeen Thornton, an anti-poverty advocate. “It’s making it harder for us to help them. If somebody gets displaced and we can’t find them, how are we supposed to provide care to them? How are we supposed to provide wellness checks?”
Oshawa is home to the largest group of unsheltered homeless people in the Durham region. A 2017 report by Durham Mental Health Services and the Community Development Council of Durham finds 74 per cent of the region’s homeless live in Oshawa.
But no matter where you stay in the city, Kyle Scott says, authorities will “kick you out.”
“The cops, three or four times a day, tell you to leave,” said Scott, who says he has been homeless for two years.
Elizabeth Hoddonon, who is also homeless, says it’s “terribly degrading” when people force her to move.
Global News reached out to the city for comment as well Mayor John Henry. Both were unavailable to be interviewed for this story.
Durham police have not yet responded to Global News inquiries about the claims of tent city evictions.