New homeless encampment protocol gets Hamilton’s seal of approval
Published August 18, 2023 at 1:10 pm
Hamilton has ratified its revised homeless encampment protocol in a 10-6 vote Friday.
The majority of councillors and Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath approved the report, including the new encampment protocol and plans for tiny shelters seen as a “low-barrier alternative to encampments.”
Six councillors opposed the protocol, expressing concerns from constituents who were worried and upset about encampments possibly showing up at parks near their homes.
In a phone interview with inthehammer.com Thursday (Aug. 17), Ward 4 Councillor Tammy Hwang said council has to take a “whole-of-community approach … that homelessness is not just a Hamilton issue. Homelessness is something that is happening nationwide and across the world.”
Council’s support of the protocol and encampment response, Hwang added, gives the City a “more clarified process in which we are supporting both the community and those living in camps.”
Hwang called the protocol “a definitive roadmap” to let people know what will be allowed at encampments, such as the number of tents at a site, and will be a way for the public and encampment residents to get help and support.
The new encampment protocol is largely the same as the one from May except for few changes based on public feedback. City staff have recommended that encampments must be 100 metres from schools, day-care centres, playgrounds, pools, waterparks, or any spray pad (originally 50 metres was proposed). Sites must also be 10 metres from private property lines instead of five metres as was initially proposed.
To accommodate the estimated 150 individuals living in the streets in Hamilton, a minimum of six sites would be needed with no more than 25 individuals at each site, according to the new protocol.
Click here to see the revised encampment proposal.
In the report that was ratified by council today, one of the recommendations for the City’s revised plan on encampments includes working with the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS). Under this plan, HATS will operate a two-year pilot of up to 25 temporary tiny homes on municipal lands. The site will have “appropriate security, services and supports at no cost to the City.”
The City identified the parking area on the Strachan Avenue linear park as a preferred site for the tiny homes that could start housing residents later this year.
The homelessness situation has become so urgent that Horwath recently pleaded for more funding from the federal government to help with the influx of refugees and asylum seekers in the City’s shelter system.
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