Housing secured for people in Windsor's tent city amid eviction fears
27 rooms have opened up in Sandwich Towne
A group of Windsor women has found housing for the residents of Windsor's tent city, amid fears that they may face eviction from their encampment in the downtown core.
As of Tuesday, an estimated 17 people live in the valley near the river. The number tends to fluctuate, so a group of women from several social agencies worked together to find housing for 27 people in a housing complex in Sandwich Towne. The Sandwich Towne property is managed by Property Management Solutions Windsor.
CBC News first reported on the tent city at the beginning of October when advocates were urging people living there to access help from an emergency shelter ahead of the cold weather. Now, the tent city residents say they may soon be forced to leave the grounds, a fact CBC News has not been able to independently confirm.
According to the City of Windsor, the land in the ravine is privately owned.
"These people are being forgotten. We'd never let a family stay out in the cold," said Lisa Valente, of YQG Cares. "But as far as a small community, they have nowhere to go tonight."
"They need someone to be advocating for them and ... being that voice."
The emergency shelter will be open Wednesday, confirmed Lacie Krzemien, an outreach worker for the Windsor Overdose Prevention Society and We Trans Support. The other groups the women involved are connected with are YQG Cares, Helping Hearts and Hands and Homeless Advocates of Windsor.
"I gave the news to a few of the residents down there last night. There was, you know, tears of joy. And we're really excited about this," said Krzemien, who was the one who found the available rooms.
Members of the group added that they'd like to see the city doing more and that the effort to help the encampment residents needs more community and city support.
In early October, Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, called for action from the provincial and federal governments, saying they need to support emergency shelters and create more affordable housing. At the time, Dunn told CBC News that he was experiencing resistance from people to come indoors due to fears around COVID-19.
Darryl Fournier has been living at the encampment for the last three months. He said it's great to have the women from the various groups advocating for them.
"Still trying to find that place that I can afford to try to live comfortable and that would be about it, trying to make ends meet for myself," he said. "Everybody needs their own space and their own time to figure out their own path."
Tent city residents will still have to pay $500 a month for the rooms at the boarding house in Sandwich Towne, but the hope is that residents can start filing for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) once they have a fixed address.
Yet, the women said they realize that housing won't fix everything.
So each volunteer has decided to pair up with one of the people making the transition from the tent city, to provide them with more than just housing support.
"We would be responsible, because that's the main thing of keeping someone housed is to continue to check in on them, make sure medications are being taken, make sure that the rent is getting paid," Valente said.
- This article has been amended to add the names of the various groups the women supporting the tent city residents are affiliated with.Nov 04, 2020 5:03 PM ET