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Kingston author hopes her new book shines a light on homelessness and housing

Cathy Crowe's new book, 'A Knapsack Full of Dreams,' highlights her experiences as a street nurse and calls for a national housing program.

Cathy Crowe has been a street nurse in Toronto for more than 30 years, and she says her newest book — titled  “A Knapsack Full of Dreams” — is a memoir of the things she’s seen and the people she’s helped.

The author, who was raised in Kingston and came back to sign copies of her book at Novel Idea, says she hopes to shine a light on issues like homelessness and housing.

“In my opinion, this has been the worst year yet,” said Crowe.

“It’s exemplified really by a 10- to 20-year waiting lists for housing, by the huge number of people that are out on the street, by tents and encampments that are popping up everywhere, and the reason is, we still do not have a national housing program building affordable housing,” Crowe told Global News.

Tom Greening, executive director for Home Base Housing in Kingston, points out the vacancy rate in the city is 0.6 per cent — a historic low in the province.

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He says affordable downtown housing is being turned into student housing, making it harder to find families and individuals affordable places to live.

READ MORE: Why finding a rental in Kingston can be frustrating

“We think the growth in the student population is the prime driver of a low vacancy rate and a high cost of rent,” Greening said.

“We need more student housing in the downtown core and … around the Queen’s campus.”

Greening is in favor of Queen’s University’s proposal of a new 300-bed residence on campus but says it won’t fix all the city’s issues.

READ MORE: Proposed new Queen’s University residence build a cause for concern

Crowe says people are crucial to the solution to the housing epidemic.

She hopes those who read her book push for change and city development.

“They (people) can make a difference, it’s happened in the past,” said Crowe.

Crowe will be traveling the country hoping to inspire and motivate Canadians with an upcoming book tour.