‘Hard nowadays because the rent’s so high,’ Kingston, Ont. unhoused resident says

The unhoused encampment near Kingston's Integrated Care Hub. Global News

Unhoused campers behind the Integrated Care Hub on Montreal Street will be allowed to stay where they are through the winter, and some of them clearly hope to remain there beyond city council’s eviction deadline in late March. But that doesn’t mean life is easy for them.

Todd Timpany considers himself one of the integrated care hub’s first unhoused residents to set up a tent close to the property on Montreal Street back in 2020.

“My tent was pretty big. I had the biggest tent there, but it was home for almost a year,” Timpany said.

The 47-year-old lost his job when the downtown restaurant he worked for closed its doors just ahead of the pandemic. He then struggled to find employment as the world went into lockdown.

“I had nowhere else to go and it was just simpler to stay in a tent, so I decided to camp it out,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Timpany had already started working for the hub 25 hours a week by doing maintenance, cleaning and off jobs before he set up camp along the K&P Trail.

After living in a tent for a year, he now regularly sleeps inside the ICH.

While he is grateful for the support of the hub, living in a large encampment nearly cost him his life.

“I got my head cracked against the pavement and I got it cut open pretty bad — 27 staples,” he said. “I … basically had to learn how to do everything all over again and they helped me every step of the way.”

The ICH parking lot has also recently become home for 61-year-old Mike Baumhour and his daughter, 33-year-old Sarah Shea. The two have been living out of their car since Dec. 21. Both are on ODSP and have been homeless since they left their last apartment.

“It’s so hard nowadays because the rent’s so high,” Baumhour said.

Click to play video: 'Major winter storm set to hit southern Ontario'
Major winter storm set to hit southern Ontario

Baumhour and Shea have found an apartment with help from home base housing, but Baumhour says the landlord is holding it for them until the first of February when they say they will be able to pay the $260 key deposit.

Story continues below advertisement

“They’re expecting us to live on the bare minimum and we literally have to pick: {Do) we want to live for shelter? Or (do) we want food?” Shea said.

Timpany, Shea and Baumhour say the answer to the homelessness crisis starts with affordable housing. Until then, a roof over their heads is never a guarantee.

Sponsored content