As temperatures sink and winter storms lash every region of Canada, the severity of homelessness across the country has come into sharp relief—in part due to burgeoning encampments like those in Winnipeg, which offer some benefits of community yet are vulnerable to fire and extreme cold.

While no one has been formally tracking their growth, Tim Richter, president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, says these makeshift villages are more common and visible than in the past. Homelessness in general, meanwhile, is getting worse: about 235,000 people experience it in Canada each year, up from an estimated 200,000 in 2013, according to the alliance. Of those, around 35,000 are currently “sleeping rough”—that is, living outdoors. The result has been tension with the permanent dwellers around their camps—and frightening incidents for those living within them.