The city of Kingston will enforce its “no camping” statute beginning this week, which means homeless campers are not allowed to set up in public spaces.
But with local shelters and facilities nearing full capacity, where will these campers go?
“It is very, very difficult to be homeless. It’s really hard not having anyone,” said Eli Whitney, who is homeless.
After many complaints from residents, Kingston council reinstated its camping protocol last week.
It means no more homeless people will be allowed to camp in parks or public spaces.
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“Ultimately, it’s disappointing,” said Trellis HIV and Community Care Executive Director Gilles Charette. “City staff have been working to add capacity to our system through additional housing options for people. Those won’t be ready until late summer and early fall. There is still not enough to meet the need that exists in the community.”
The city says each person’s relocation will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
In a press release, the city says it will provide alternative service options, such as “shelter, integrated care center access, motel/hotel, apartment, medical services, storage, and transportation.”
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But the problem with moving to the shelters is that some of them are almost at capacity.
“What we don’t see in our system is a lot of capacity for people who are homeless and who use substances. What we would describe as harm reduction supportive housing, there’s not much of that in our system,” Charette said.
As for the campers, many of them have nowhere to go.
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Whitney, one of the campers set up around the Integrated Care Hub, says he really doesn’t want to leave his space, but he’ll still camp if he’s evicted from his area.
I’ll go camping somewhere else. They can come find me and do it over and over and over again. I’m homeless, so what? Every person here is homeless, so what? Whitney said.
Whitney says the constant evictions are hard on the homeless population, who are trying to find some kind of stability while living in their tents.
“You can’t keep throwing us around, we’re not toys. We are people. We are human beings. We are like everyone else who has a home,” Whitney said.
Enforcement of the no camping ordinance will begin this week, and once campers are notified of their eviction, they’ll have six hours to pack up and find another place to go, wherever that may be.
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