Some began wondering what was going on in Owen Sound this summer when they saw people living in tents and under tarps downtown.

The change was undeniable: Homeless people living out in the open, for a while at the gazebo neat the library and elsewhere nearby in public view. This was new.

At Safe ‘n Sound, the downtown drop-in centre where anyone may come for a free meal at lunch, take a shower or just talk, staff even fielded questions from people wondering what’s being done about the problem.

Staff became aware of at least three tent encampments. They saw leaps in demand for lunches and so many requests for tents and sleeping bags they had to put out calls for them on social media.

They saw a lot of new faces at the drop-in centre, increasingly from other communities. They were younger, with more drug problems, and males far outnumbered females. A year ago it was closer to 50-50 split.