Solutions to the current homeless problem in Peterborough were discussed during a rally on Friday, July 12.

Supporters and those tenting in public parks throughout the city gathered at Confederation Square, across from city hall, for a solidarity rally.

People spoke about their struggle for survival and their struggle for housing and shelter justice.

Prior to the rally, a wish list of solutions was sent to local media by the organizers.

The CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal released the following numbers about the overflow shelter’s first winter in operation:

  • There were 6,796 stays from 1,585 individuals at the shelter.
  • It was used mostly by men (1,402), followed by women (173) and people who identify as transgender (10).
  • The age of users at the shelter ranged from 18 to 85, with an average age of 46.
  • On six nights, the shelter had more than 100 visitors.

The shelter had its highest occupancy on March 11, the day after a snowstorm.

There has been an almost constant full house at Rosewood since it became a downtown homeless shelter last December.

Tim Philp, executive director at Rosewood House on Nelson Street, said they welcomed their first client, an older woman, shortly after opening their doors on Dec. 15. She stayed for about two weeks.

“We have 30 beds and overflow cots that take us up to 34,” said Philp. “We have been at capacity or over capacity since about January. Beds fill up very quickly.”

Philp said he’s surprised the number of people in need of emergency housing at Rosewood hasn’t significantly decreased over the spring and summer.

How is it that people in our community are homeless?

There are the people we see living “rough,” carting their entire lives in bags and carts, surviving with very little through all weather conditions. They frequent shelters or live in parks and ravines.

Then there are others who do not have a home to call their own but are able to rely on friends and family, or barter for a night or two of couch surfing.

Why would anyone live like this? Is it a choice? Are they just lazy? Why don’t they just get a job?

The reality is this is a hard way to live and no one would choose this, unless the alternative was worse…

The city’s homeless continue to camp at various locations throughout the city, despite the availability of beds and housing units.

At least four “tent cities” have popped up in Peterborough since the Warming Room closed July 1.

Many homeless campers have said there’s no where for them to go, so they’re forced to live outside in tents.

But city officials say otherwise.

A homeless shelter, plans for which previously stirred up neighbours, is set to open its doors on Wednesday.

The 36-bed shelter, at 12040 Horseshoe Way in Ironwood, will help meet the immediate needs of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents, according to the City of Richmond.

The Richmond News reported two years ago that the site would replace a smaller, 10-bed, men-only shelter run by the Salvation Army on Shell Road, after that location received an eviction notice.

While premiers and territorial leaders meet in Saskatchewan today to discuss the well-being of Indigenous children, youth and families, a new report released today co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.

“Canada is not tracking First Nations poverty on-reserve so we did,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The findings of this report are shameful and underscore the urgent need to invest in First Nations children, families and communities. Our children face the worst social and economic conditions in the country. They deserve an opportunity to succeed. Canada has not been tracking poverty on-reserve and that’s one reason the situation is not improving. We need a combination of political will, action, cooperation among governments and sustainable investments in water, infrastructure, housing and education to help First Nations children succeed and get a fair start in life. It’s beneficial to all Canadians to close the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canada.”