Some Winnipeggers living in homeless camps just outside of the downtown core say they prefer the autonomy of the camp lifestyle to staying at a shelter.
Joseph Tulloch, who said he’s been living in a camp near Henry Avenue for almost a month, told 680 CJOB he and his wife don’t receive social assistance, so they panhandle to survive.
“We go for $40 a day, for our food and her cigarettes,” he said.
“It’s better than living at Salvation Army, really. We have no rules, we don’t have to be inside at curfew, we don’t have nosy people.”
Tulloch said his daily routine includes trying to find odd jobs, but it’s a grind.
“We get up, clean, go eat breakfast at Lighthouse Mission, and go on with our day,” he said.
“It’s very hard in this city now to find a place. I’ve held up the sign, stating ‘need any work’?, but people don’t want to help the homeless. It’s hard.”
The camp he’s staying in is drug-free, he said, and isn’t bothered by police. He’s planning on staying there indefinitely, even through the bitter cold.
“We’re ready for it,” he said. “Hopefully we get enough stuff to keep us warm during the winter.”
Earlier this year, a city request-for-proposal aimed at finding contractors to tear down homeless camps caused backlash and protests. The proposal was called dehumanizing.
Since then, non-profit social services agency the Main Street Project has stepped in to provide outreach, health services, and harm reduction to the people living in the camps.
Some city councillors weighed in on the camps on Wednesday.
While many residents have voiced concern over the city letting the camps stay up this summer, Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry) told Global News that positive work has been done.
“While it may not look and feel like success, there have been a great deal of touch points of social services that have happened over the course of the summer,” Rollins said.
“People should be encouraged by that.”
Charleswood Coun. Kevin Klein said he’s working on a plan with community members that involves educating kids, helping addicts find treatment and then targeting any criminals.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with city council,” Klein said. “This will be a plan that will be the community getting it done.”
WATCH: Mayor, councillors say Winnipeg’s homeless camps here to stay