Homeless Tent Encampment Survey Results

This post, from August 12 summarizes the results of the Ward 8 Homeless Tent Encampment Survey.

homeless encampment

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

Communities across Canada are increasingly struggling with the need to find solutions that address the needs of both people living in encampments and the broader communities they exist within.

Homeless tent encampments are the result of several conditions including:

  • a lack of affordable housing, particularly with supports;
  • limited emergency shelter space;
  • an opioid epidemic;
  • untreated and exacerbated mental health issues;
  • a broader lack of affordability for basic needs; and
  • insufficient resources at a municipal level to address these issues.

The City of Hamilton is currently reviewing options for homeless tent encampments which may include sanctioned sites with up to fifty tents, and/or an encampment protocol that would allow up to five tents on City property, including parks.

To help Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko evaluate the views of Ward 8 residents, our office asked residents to complete an online survey.

The Ward 8 results are very similar to the City-wide results: there is split support for larger sanctioned encampment sites with onsite supports and stronger opposition to the encampment protocol that would allow clusters of five tents in all City parks.

Ward 8 respondents were very clear that safety was a top concern for both unhoused and housed residents. There was also a consistent theme that public parks are not a suitable location for homeless tent encampments.

The following are a summary of the survey results, including a selection of typical comments received from Ward 8 residents.

Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko would like to sincerely thank all Ward 8 residents who took the time to complete this survey. The results will help inform and guide his final position at Council.

Sanctioned Site Results
Ward 8 Survey Sanctioned Site Results

Not near public community spots meant for children (schools, parks, splash pads, day area). With such limited free public spaces for families adding encampments will deter safe spaces for children and families.

Having those in the encampments maintain their dignity. Ensure proper protection for all involved (any area residents and those in the encampments).

Safety for the unhoused and the general population around them is needed. Access to health services, food, water and washroom facilities is important as well. Keeping the area maintained and clean for the health and well being of all people will be required as well. It is hard to fathom areas like this in residential neighborhoods.

Safety for all, especially women as they become very vulnerable in encampments, safety for the surrounding areas. Would pot-a-potty’s be made available? Number one would be that only sanctioned encampments be permitted, all others would be dismantled immediately.

Encampments should not be in the proximity of any residential areas where children play and enjoy the outdoors.

I favour housing over encampments but any approved sites must be safe. You should not permit any unlawful activities that impact safety.

Safe disposal areas for the people. So our community doesn’t have any biohazardous material around. Have a city water fountain available when necessary. Ensure the safety of kids around the area.

1. permanent low-income housing a priority – keep pressure on Queen’s Park and federal governments 2. safety of unhoused residents from fire, assault, theft, maintaining self-policing abilities 3. health, water and sanitary services to the unhoused 4. counselling and support services for the unhoused residents

These sites need to be in areas that are non-residential and should not be in public parks or high traffic areas where an encampment would negatively impact public usage of the space. A regular police presence will be vital, and there should be zero tolerance for criminality. Unhoused residents should be held to the same standards as those that are housed. Lastly, I’d like to see the city prioritize rehabilitation over “safe use” strategies – see Alberta’s example.

I am in favour of this protocol only because it represents the City trying to do something constructive to allow people to camp legally on public property. How this will work out is still to be seen as many aspects of the plan are still unknown and untested. I don’t have any expectations that it is going to be a perfect solution that pleases anyone completely or is without problems. I think how the protocol could be improved is by keeping it clear to the public that the City is moving in a new direction and it will take time to know it this is the right approach.

Request support from provincial/federal government

Without affordable housing, the homeless community will continue to grow. Guidelines should be made in different parts of the City. I would think you would have to limit the # of tents per area. Awareness must be at the forefront as homelessness is an issue that will get much worse before it goes away.

Make sure it is a temporary protocol and that all three levels of government address the broader issues, healthcare, mental heal, addiction, ACCOUNTABILITY, housing, working poor etc. I understand this is challenging and multifaceted but we are throwing money at this problem and it is only getting worse.

I have sympathy for the people struggling on the street and I’m willing to offer resources or my time to help with this situation but with that said I have small children and I fear the criminal element that is often involved around and with these living situations. I am greatly in favor if the tiny home idea.

There is no correct protocol to this situation, but allowing an encampment in a park where children play and sports are enjoyed by all neighbours is not an answer to this problem that is facing many communities

Advocacy at both the provincial and federal level; this is an issue created at those levels with an insufficient housing strategy that has snowballed and become a municipal issue.

I know the city is trying it’s hardest to combat the cost of housing and homelessness. I feel that the protocol is a good start but I would like to see or hear about the long term goals to combat this with affordable housing.

This protocol assumes that people in crisis have the capacity to research, understand and follow regulations, which I think is a non-starter. People in crisis have one goal: surviving. This policy seems like it’s more for reassuring housed people than helping unhoused people. I am concerned that the Sanctioned Encampment Sites protocol is setting up a situation where we herd all the unhoused (and eventually other people undesirable traits) into one area, forget about them and rob them of their dignity.

Provide services and resources that are useful and valuable to unhoused persons to incentivize settlement in areas where they can be supported. Avoid punitive measures towards unhoused persons outside settlement areas.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.

Councillor John-Paul Danko