If not here, where? Advocates say making people move may be making things worse

By Casey Taylor

When it comes to homeless encampments, there is a lot up for debate.

That debate has been playing out in many arenas of late locally with people living at multiple encampments across the region currently on the clock and facing eviction orders.

One key question continues to be left unanswered though, according to advocates — what comes after the eviction?

“What are we doing from there, what's the next step, how are we going to make this better and not worse?” asked Regan Brussé with the Alliance Against Poverty.

Even with all the services available locally for those facing homelessness, Brussé said it's still not enough to meet demand and those services also may not necessarily work for everyone.

If that's the case, Brussé questioned the point of making people move on with nowhere to go.

“When we have no other options, when we have no available shelter for everyone, what else are we really doing by moving people repeatedly other than just hiding the situation and making ourselves feel better?” she asked.

Brussé suggested letting people stay where they are, so long as there are no major safety issues or issues regarding private property, would offer an opportunity to at least provide for basic needs like water, bathrooms, and sanitation.

“However every time we displace people we're contributing to a mobile population meaning we're forcing mobility, you have to move here, now you have to move here, and we're criminalizing these individuals,” Brussé said.

Asked about whether or not it is safe for people to be living in tents, Brussé maintained that is not the top concern right now.

“I don't think anybody should ever be forced to live in a tent through our winter let alone our summers,” she said. “In the summer it's hot but in the winter you could quite literally freeze to death.”

“But, right now, we don't have any additional options. There will be people on our streets living in tents through the winter because we have failed to provide otherwise.”

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