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‘I can’t even describe it:’ Oshawa man sleeps in frigid conditions to support homeless

Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness
WATCH: An Oshawa resident has now spent the past month sleeping outside to show support for the homeless community. Brittany Rosen reports.

An Oshawa man has now spent the past month sleeping outside in a tent to show support for the homeless community.

It comes after advocates say six people have died in the city in November, partially because of frigid conditions.

READ MORE: A closer look at homelessness in Oshawa

Taylor Bailey knows the weather can be painfully cold, which is why he couldn’t help but think of those suffering.

“One night at like 1 a.m., something woke me up from my deep sleep, and I was like, ‘you need to do something this second,'” the Oshawa native said.

Bailey took action immediately. On that night one month ago, he got out of bed, pulled out his tent and started sleeping outside.

He’s been doing it almost every night ever since.

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READ MORE: Oshawa’s growing homeless population forced to move out of tent cities

Taylor says when it’s too windy outside, the tent will blow down the street. Although he doesn’t sleep inside the tent during these nights, he will still sleep outside on his front porch.

Homeless advocate and executive director of DIRE Oshawa, Christeen Thornton, says getting out of the cold isn’t always an option for those living on the streets.

“There was actually an issue last year where there was an ice storm and an individual that got literally frozen into their tent,” she said.

A closer look at homelessness in Oshawa
A closer look at homelessness in Oshawa

It’s a devastating reality that hits home for Shawn Smith, who experienced homelessness when he lived in Toronto.

Smith has also decided to set up a tent of his own to show support for those on the streets.

“I [have] been on the streets in Toronto, four years,” Smith said. “It’s rough and I [have] been in a lot of combinations.

“Guess what, it’s good to help people and good to help life.”

READ MORE: Whitby woman befriends Toronto man who is homeless; inspires Durham homeless initiative

The need to help individuals is what motivated those like Bailey to call on local governments to do more.

“City officials and councillors [need] to come up with a permanent solution or at least a part-time solution for the winter,” he said.

As a part of a worldwide effort called the World’s Big Sleepout Campaign, Bailey is hoping others will take part in a sleepout happening at Memorial Park on Saturday.

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The event will start at 2 p.m.

The global movement is supported by multiple celebrities, including Will Smith.

Bailey is calling on Smith’s son Jaden, who was in Toronto for a concert Tuesday, to attend the sleepout.

“I’d just love Jaden Smith to come out to Oshawa and support what we’re doing for the big sleep out that his dad is supporting,” Bailey said.

READ MORE: ‘I don’t choose to be homeless’: Belleville resident

As for Thornton, who was once homeless herself, she says movements like these are crucial to helping those living on the streets.

“It’s really hard to reach these people sometimes because they feel very othered by our society” she said.

“All movements start small. It reaffirms for those living out there that people do care.”