Homelessness is an obvious and well-known issue. We can see it everywhere but most
particularly in Ward 3’s North End. It has spilled over into the nearby neighbourhood of Stinson because that is where most of the services have recently been either relocated or created. Stipley, Gibson, Landsdale and Stinson…4 neighbourhoods sacrificed to serve the total number of people encamped in the city. Approximately 6000 of Hamilton’s population of 561,606, are waiting for affordable housing; 169 of them are living in encampments. If we average, on the low side, two people per tent, and there are 38 tents in Woodlands Park, that’s 76 people. Lansdale’s J.C.Beemer Park has between 5 and 6 tents at last count for another 12 people. Stinson’s Carter Park has 7 tents … for 14 people…for a total of 102 of the encamped residents in Hamilton. Most of them were moved recently to Ward 3. That leaves just 67 across the rest of the city. Why?
Our Councilors live primarily in the wards they represent, but not where this is happening. We expect our councilors to treat the residents of all wards equally…as if each were in their neighbourhood and their back yard. That is a basic requirement of all councilors, but one that is being ignored.
HATS (Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters) presented one option; the city’s plan is preventive homelessness. The $100k, requested by HATS, would house 10 people and provide wraparound services for one year. With the same funds, and the city’s preventive plan, it could keep approximately 25 couples, 55 families, or 90 singles from becoming homeless for a year. Many people are struggling with high rents and low income. Hamilton staff have advised that they cannot keep up with the demands for funds to help people stay in their homes; however, keeping people housed costs a fraction of the alternative solution.
We have talented and skilled staff employed by our city who were directed to come up with solutions. How disrespectful to ignore those solutions. How disrespectful to ignore the concerns of residents at what was advertised as a “Community Consultation on Encampments”, and, instead, allowed only cherry-picked people to speak How much money was spent for the alleged consultation at the Convention Centre? How many people could have remained housed with that money? Maybe only one, but it would be one less homeless person, family, or couple.
It was recently announced that the 541 Eatery & Helping Hands are to receive a shared contribution of $30k and $5k, respectively, from Wards 2 & 3. What of the countless other ward 3 businesses and residents that are being affected by encampments and other issues recently moved into their neighbourhoods? Many in the community are struggling, or at a tipping point, and are just as deserving of financial support as those two. It is the city, as a whole, and not Wards 2 and 3, which should be alleviating the negative effects their actions are having on our community. Further, the city should acknowledge the damage done to these neighbourhoods by, at the very least, cutting our taxes in half and providing us with the equivalent police presence that was recently awarded Ward 2. We residents love our homes and are hurt by the city’s total lack of regard for us, for our friends and for our families. Stipley, Gibson, Lansdale, and Stinson represent much of the history and heritage of our city, and they deserve better treatment.
Hamilton did not reach these numbers of people with inadequate housing in one year or ten. It has taken decades of ignoring the problem while it slowly increased, and reached a peak when we faced the pandemic. Just as the problem didn’t arrive all at once, it won’t be fixed all at once. Use available money to build new or repurposed housing and to keep families housed, and stop finding ways to spend it on band-aid solutions that only prolong and increase the problems.