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Agreement reached to end litigation over Hamilton’s homeless encampments

A recent probe revealed at least 19 people without residences died in the city during a six month period in 2021. Lisa Polewski/ Global News Hamilton

The City of Hamilton and community advocates have reached an agreement to end litigation over local homeless encampments.

The City says both parties have agreed to appear together before the Superior Court to confirm the lifting of the July 30 injunction and withdrawal of the application which challenged City bylaws.

Both parties say they also agree that encampments, which grew in size at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are a symptom of a housing crisis that is national in scope, and that tents are not a solution to the housing challenges many experience.

Read more: There’s hope for a ‘negotiated settlement’ regarding Hamilton’s homeless encampments

“The City remains committed to helping people experiencing homelessness find safer and more humane housing options and to ensure our public spaces remain safe and accessible to all residents of Hamilton who collectively own them,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

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The agreement calls for the advocates and the City to continue engaging with provincial health authorities to help people who need more support than municipal shelter and outreach efforts can offer.

Current City of Hamilton data suggests that those with higher, complex needs make up between 25 and 30 per cent of the Hamilton’s homeless population.

“Keeping Six and HAMSMaRT are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the City to come to an agreement that recognizes the challenges that the people we love and care for face in accessing shelter and housing,” said spokeswomen Dr. Jill Wiwcharuk and Lisa Nussey.

“We look forward to putting this legal battle behind us and moving forward in supporting people who use drugs and those experiencing homelessness.”

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There is no word when the local encampments will be dismantled.

“While this agreement paves the way for the removal of encampments, it does not diminish the lasting experiences for citizens living near them and we thank them for their patience,” said Eidenberger.

“We are pleased that we can return to enforcing our bylaw while at the same time working with community groups to advocate for increased provincial health care supports for those that need them.”

Click to play video: 'Homeless advocates concerned about vulnerable populations' Homeless advocates concerned about vulnerable populations
Homeless advocates concerned about vulnerable populations – Sep 30, 2020

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