Care and Precautions for Unsheltered NOW

Petition on 24hr emergency shelters

We Can Do Better is a letter that followed an email campaign in Waterloo Region to support and sanction homeless encampments until we create homes for all, July 15 2020. 

We need a fighting chance for our unsheltered residents, Press Release April 11, 2020.

Find out more about the UNSHELTERED CAMPAIGN for temporary 24/7 emergency alternative shelters now: As a part of the Community Support Control Group’s pandemic response, all shelters in the region are open 24/7 and the A.R. Kaufman YMCA in Kitchener expended its daytime activities into overnight space so people can shelter in place. Currently, to counter the spread of the virus among the unsheltered, there are a few public washroom locations open in Kitchener and Cambridge, and two day drop in locations that they are not open seven day's a week. Unsheltered people have no easy access to water, hadwashing, enough food or a place to rest. Read the UNSHELTERED TESTIMONIES being published about life on the streets during the outbreak of COVID19. The letters sent by residents to ask about the plans to bring people indoors during the pandemic usually do not receive responses from the Regional Chair or the Mayors. We need over 250 additional 24/7 spaces in the region and we need them now for the basic human rights to shelter, healthcare, safety... and life. The PETITION for opening public and private facilities, funding and staffing of the additional shelter spaces is still open. 

The Right to Housing is The Right to Life

Read the full report on Homelessness as Global Human Rights Crisis.
Read also the National Protocol of Homeless Encampment in Canada.

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Civic Hub grassroots conversations are slowly moving online. Since social-distancing started, most of them focus on homeless outside of the shelter system (unsheltered) as the whole infrastructure shut down on them, coffee shops, public washrooms, day drop ins, internet access, community food distribution and service programs. Of course, all the advice made for us who are middle class, such as, stay home, stock up, sleep 8 hours, order from Amazon, avoid groups and crowds, impossible to follow.

Regional government has brought together social and housing service agencies and responded to centralize food security programs, ensure shelters are open 24 hours (no 8hr sleep there), open three day use locations with public washrooms, and in collaboration with health care frontliners, make sure that homeless who show symptoms of respiratory illness can be isolated in motel rooms. We are all concerned. We had a humanitarian crisis for many winters now with the number of unsheltered individuals increased. It was never acceptable. It is not acceptable now.

Heather Majaury sent the first public letter on March 20th and asked the Regional Chair and the Mayor of Kitchener, when, not if, local community centres in the region will open as essential service for the homeless. (read the letter here) We are all still waiting for an answer. The answer to preventing the spread of the virus and to preventing deaths among the homeless and unsheltered population. Think on a scale of distancing to isolation to quarantine. Unsheltered individuals will have many health challenges, and they need safe overnight space too to keep distance and stop the spread. We do not have the facilities open for this. Once they exhibit symptoms, who will know if they are outside of the shelter system? If they are identified, there will be spaces in motels for them. They need to stay there if they are awaiting results or if they need to be quarantined. Many would not be able to take care of themselves. Providing care will be even more difficult if we go into a lockdown.

You can see how the time is of essence. So, the question is not when, but if it is happening today. In community centres, student residences, hotels. Join the call and talk to your councillor at the city, township and the region. 

Regional council   -   Kitchener Council   -   Cambridge Council   -  Waterloo Council   

Groups that support the call

People's Action Group
Circle of Friends
Alliance Against Poverty
Disabilities and Human Rights
Awareness of Low Income Voices
Our Time KW
WR Yes In My Back Yard

more to come...

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