Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien says the city hopes to have a clear plan in place by week’s end to address a growing number of homeless people living in tents.
Around 30 tents have popped up in several locations around town since the Warming Room homeless shelter closed on July 1. The facility shut its doors because the Murray Street Baptist Church where it was housed is undergoing renovations.
“City staff and our community partners have been working hard on outreach to try to move people out of tents into either shelters or more permanent housing,” said Therrien. “There’s been some success with that. Not as much as we’d like.”
Angela Wall and her boyfriend Cliff, who declined to give his last name, live in a tent at Riverside Park. She says they’re both getting frustrated with finding a place to stay.
“As long as I keep myself drinking and don’t think about it then you just don’t worry about it … I don’t know,” an emotional Wall told Global News on Wednesday.
According to the city, there are open spaces in three other shelters and 20 housing units available.
But some of the displaced say the housing prices are outrageous since many rely on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
“A lot of them are on ODSP, and they (housing) don’t accept ODSP,” said Cliff. “They want students and working professionals. The rent prices are skyrocketing. I saw one bachelor apartment for $1,350 plus.”
Donations, including money and food, have been dropped off at the tents, however Peterborough Public Health has urged people to donate only certain food items.
“People that are living in the tent communities, they don’t have access to cooking facilities or refrigeration facilities so if there is a desire to donate food, it would be best do so with food that’s non-hazardous or pre-packaged from an approved source,” said Julie Ingram, manager of environmental health with the public health unit.
Wall says she’s not sure how long she’ll be camping out but that she is hopeful for a solution.
“Everybody bands together, and we stick together. That’s all we got,” she said. “As long as you stick together and stay together, you’ll be OK.”
A solidarity rally is scheduled for Friday at Confederation Park in support of the displaced. The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon.
WATCH: Dealing with a tent city in Peterborough