Mother of encampment resident calls for more supports

By Karis Mapp

Five residents were misplaced following the removal of a housing encampment in Kitchener. Despite Regional Chair, Karen Redman, saying that all of the individuals affected had found shelter elsewhere, Laura Edwards said that was not the case.

She is the mother of one of the residents and appeared on The Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570.

“The place my son is at is only temporary and it's only because of Nadine Green from Better Tent City,” said Edwards.

Her son is unable to stay at multiple shelters within the region due to his previous behaviour. Edwards links his violent outbursts to his drug addiction and bi-polar diagnosis.

“I don't understand why he couldn't live in a shelter and the staff could support him,” Edwards said. “He needs help for more than just his temper. He needs help handling money and going to the grocery store.”

She also voiced her frustration about what happens when he's taken to hospital for a psychiatric assessment. According to Edwards, the hospital staff attempt to get the individual clean from drugs, keep them for 10 days, and then discharge them back onto the streets.

“They don't look at the whole person or deal with the whole situation. They just dump them back onto the streets for whoever to look after them.”

Despite her son not being able to live with her due to his behaviour, Edwards doesn't believe that should mean he should have nowhere to live.

“I have done a lot and I can't do anymore,” she said. “He needs support from the community because what do these people do once their parents are gone? There will be no one to help them.”

She added that he is currently being medicated for his mental health struggles and wants people to recognize that his behaviour stems from him being sick, not a bad person. 

Since the encampment was removed, Edwards said that her son has been fairly calm but many of his personal belongings were lost during the event.

“I realize that they could have packed up because they got a week's notice of the eviction but him and another fella had no place to go. The region said there were places for him to go but they did not.”

CAO Bruce Lauckner issued an apology to everyone affected by the removal.

“The apology is accepted but that doesn't change the system,” said Edwards. “The systems need to be changed and they need to offer more supports to these people.”

She added that it is very difficult being in her situation, having to watch her son go through it all. 

There was a protest held in response to the removal. Edwards did speak and called the overall experience very emotional. 

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