Unsheltered Campaign

A campaign led by community advocates who are housed and not housed to provide 24/7 year-round alternatives to shelter and housing for all unsheltered people in Waterloo Region. We are building bridges across social and economic divides – our experiences of it may differ, but the housing crises we live is the same!

The current calls to action are rooted in the work and calls to action published by the
Unsheltered Campaign, which have been ongoing and unmet since 2020 when COVID-19
lockdowns resulted in outrageous and unlawful treatment and neglect of the homeless. This coalition would not exist without the groundwork laid by them, nor would it exist if their calls to action were addressed.

For more information on the work of the Unsheltered Campaign and how to get connected, please visit civichubwr.org/unsheltered-campaign or email unshelteredcampaign@gmail.com.

Letter Against Evictions

June 21, 2022

Petition to stop evictions in Waterloo Region

The link to email/letter template you can use for your advocacy! 

We call on the Region of Waterloo and affiliated municipalities, such as, City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, and City of Cambridge, to implement the following:

1. Stop any and all actions to evict encampments.Forced evictions are a violation of human rights. It furthers the displacement of Indigenous peoples on their own [stolen] land. Forced evictions add to encampment residents’ trauma. Forced evictions breed distrust of the authorities who supposedly protect people, and thesupportive institutions that are connected through you to those evicting them. This is a huge step backwards in getting people the supports and housing they need.

2. Permit encampments.
Encampments are not ideal, but we must be realistic: we don’t have enough adequate housing. Encampments will continue to exist. Encampments can be vastly improved for everyone simply by being permitted, giving residents some security, and allowing services to support residents. A Better Tent City is a successful example. Insecurity and threat of eviction is a large part of what makes homelessness traumatic, dangerous and difficult to escape. Give them a place or allowthem to stay now!

3. Provide immediate support to mitigate the harms of homelessness.
Encampments do not have direct access to restrooms, water, food, electricity, garbage
collection, or health and social supports; residents must go elsewhere to access them which is often the direct cause of friction with surrounding business. Providing these supports and basic services mitigates the harm to residents and mitigates conflicts with neighbours of the encampments. The Weber/Victoria encampment is currently well situated due to its proximity to St. John’s Kitchen, transit, and other community services.

4. Collaborate with the encampment residents, supportive communities, and front-line workers to create short-term and long-term sustainable, life-affirming solutions.
Encampment residents have a vested interest in the success of housing initiatives. The
community is filled with people already doing the work and who have relationships with those you purportedly want to help. Work with us so we can help each other. In particular, the Region’s Encampment Risk Assessment Framework needs to be made public so it can be co-created with those most at risk.

Read the full letter here.

These are the current groups who support the ask:

Alliance Against Poverty
Awareness of Low Income Voices 
Climate Justice Laurier
Community Fridge KW
Community Kitchen Cooperative KW
Food Not Bombs Kitchener Waterloo
For A Better Waterloo Region
Fossil Free UW
Going Mobile KW
GroundUpWR
Healing of the Seven Generations
KW Council of Canadians
KW Urban Harvester
K-W Urban Native Wigwam Project
Laura Mae Lindo, MPP Elect Kitchener Centre
Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG)
MyMotherNamedMeSunshine.ca
Nickolas Rollick, CFO for Candidate on Record (Green Party Waterloo)
Out Of The Box Counseling & Collaborations
O:se Kenhionhata:tie Land Back Camp
Our Place Family Resource and Early Years Centre
People’s Action Group
Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival
Reallocate WR
Shefaza Esmail, Candidate on Record (Green Party Waterloo)
Social Development Centre Waterloo Region
SPECTRUM Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community Space
Sex Workers’ Action Network of Waterloo Region
Waterloo Region Climate Initiatives
WR Yes In My Back Yard
519 Community Collective

HOW to HELP: Contributing to Unsheltered Needs and Shelter Suports
from mymothernamedmesunshine.ca

Encampments in Waterloo Region: An Environmental Scan and Recommendations for Best Practices, Brown et al., Wilfrid Laurier University, Community Housing Policy in Canada, January 3rd, 2022

CURRENT Winter 2021-2022
Sanction Encampments NOW

Sanction Encampments NOW

You can add your group or organization to the joint ask to the three cities and the Region of Waterloo to apply a moratorium on encampment home evictions and sanction spaces where over 700 unsheltered find community, safety and supports to live and survive. See the current list of groups and organizations who signed already below.

Letter to the City of Kitchener
Letter to the City of Waterloo
Letter to the City of Cambridge

Region of Waterloo Council Meeting November 29th 
The Record

 

Call to the Regoion of Waterloo Council, August 13th, 2021
Decriminalize Homeless Encampments in Waterloo Region

We are asking the groups and organizations in Waterloo Region to show solidarity and add their signature to the letter to municipal councils with the following urgent requests:

  • a stop to evicting and criminalizing encampment communities,
  • ending neo-vagrancy by-laws,
  • ample access to public restrooms and other amenities outside of a few central locations in the region,
  • eliminating hostile architecture that forces people to not use public amenities (like park benches),
  • re-allocating funds from downstream programs to upstream services such as transitional housing for unsheltered and hidden homeless.

Read the full letter sent to the Regional Council and staff.

The organizations and groups who have already signed since August 2021:

50 by 30 Waterloo Region
A Better Tent City
ACCKWA
Alliance Against Poverty
Awareness of Low Income Voices
Canadian Federation of University Women
Community Legal Services Waterloo Region
Conestoga Students Inc.
Disabilities and Human Rights
Divest Waterloo
Fair Vote Waterloo Region
Food Not Bombs
For a Better Waterloo Region
Green Light Arts
Ground Up WR
KW Community Co-op Kitchen
KW Urban Native Wigwam Project
MT Space
Neruda Arts
Peace for All Canada
People’s Action Group
Radio Waterloo
Reception House Waterloo Region
Sanguen
Scaled Purpose
Shamrose for Syrian Culture
Social Development Centre Waterloo Region
SPECTRUM
Spiritual Heritage Education Network
Waterloo Region Community Garden Network
Waterloo Region Yes In My Back Yard

… your name here:)

Email us to let us know at unshelteredcampaign@gmail.com

Sincerely
Paule Madeleine Charland

Ontario Allliance to End Homelessness – Myths bout Encampments
SPECTRUM – LGBTQ2S+ HOmelessness & Income Inequality

POINT IN TIME COUNT 2021 REPORT – STORIES AND NARRATIVES

Point in Time Count 2021

“There is trust and leadership in homeless communities. It is just that the greater community hasn’t accepted it yet.” – Stories and Narratives. SDCWR team engaged ten staff and community connectors to support the Point in Time Count, and most importantly, to collect life stories and narratives to complement the quantitative data. Our approach, embedded in lived expertise and relationships built over decades, is grounded in the realization that we still make important decisions based on numbers whereas the qualitative data is left out. Quantitative data has a notoriousness to generalize and overstate the arguments, is taken at face value, and yet maintains its reputation to be an accurate measure of social phenomena.

Eight of the SDCWR team members had a lived experience of homelessness at some point in their life. Many have been advocates for years, struggled to regain solid ground under their feet for themselves, their families and their peers. They dedicated 134 hours to the count, and collected 85 surveys, encountered 70 more homeless, and collected stories and narratives committed to amplify the voices of the homelessness. They also agree that if the weather was warmer, there was more time, more people would have been reached, especially the hidden homeless.

Without their wisdom and relationships, the engagement this year would not have been as revealing, as compassionate, and visionary. Read the Stories and Narratives Report and share your side of things.

_ _ _
Previous Campaign: Summer 2020
We Can Do Better 

Read Shelter 4 All | Unsheltered Campaign
We Can Do Better letter
We Can Do Better
letter sent to all municipal and regional councilors to launch a number of immediate actions to support the unsheltered and to ensure Homes4All.

Unsheltered Testimonies — hear from the unsheltered themselves, as we work to decriminalize homelessness, ensure access to washrooms and warming locations, support temporary settlements during the pandemic, and make sure that women in the region have access to barrier free overflow shelter spaces.
If you want to join in & get in touch unshelteredcampaign@gmail.com.

If you want to send us a monetary donation through direct bank autodeposit, please mark Unsheltered Fund and email sdcwr@waterlooregion.org.

Thank you all who sent your letters to municipal councils. We can do better to support all the unsheltered this summer and the coming winter!

Actions from the community partners:

Days of Action Unsheltered Campaign supported Days of Action 2021, annual advocacy initiative of the McMaster’s School of Medicine. You can read more in the two-pager outlining the final asks to all municipal councils in the region, as well as the full background paper. The student group met with 13 councillors to discuss these asks and to raise awareness of the needs of the housing-insecure populations. Currently, Region of Waterloo staff and regional partners are holding consultations to transform the system responses to homelessness and we will make a case that lived experience voices have the most intimate and intricate knowledge of current obstacles and future solutions and need to be integrated into the planning process.

Forum Sans AbriThe first virtual forum on Affordable Housing and Homelessness, titled Everyone deserves a place to call home, was hosted by Wellbeing Waterloo Region and partners, including the Social Development Centre. Unsheltered Campaign has grown out of the pandemic community response to fill the gaps in needs of the homeless who remain outside of the shelter system. The forum recording is available now, but for now, take a look at the slides presented by the community advocate Heather Majaury and listen to the Unsheltered Testimonies played at the opening of the conversation. To get in touch with the Unsheltered Campaign team email unshelteredcampaign@gmail.com or visit Civic Hub Waterloo Region website. More Unsheltered Testimonies can be found at this page.

  • ABTC, Unsheltered, Food Not Bombs, WR Yes In My Back Yard, and Social Development Centre Waterloo Region all had delegations at the regional council meeting on August 11th to address the report proposing to address the COVID overflow for single homeless men from Radisson Hotel and Kaufman YMCA/House of Hope before this winter; as well as, proposes a creation of alternative modular housing for 2021. The delegations can be heard in the meeting webcast, starting at 1hr and 50 min.

In the MEDIA

Audio

Download: 2020-04-09-Heather-Majaury-Letter-in-support-of-the-unsheltered.mp3, 6 MBytes, 6m03s

CanadaHelps donate buttonYou can donate to the Civic Hub or Unsheltered Campaign funds at our CanadaHelps portal.