Region agrees to end putting poor people in jail as housing

27 Jan

Yesterday we met with representatives of the region to discuss our two demands which are

1. Create a shelter that has an equal or higher amount of beds than the amount of beds that have been lost with the closing of the Out of the Cold program. This shelter will be temporary in the sense that it will take the place of Out of the Cold and once people are in this shelter they will be given emergency assistance from social workers to get into affordable housing

2. That if there are no beds available at the shelter they be directed to the emergency motel program, which according to the Region’s Chair on Housing is what shelter workers are supposed to do. Further, according to the Chair on housing, this program has enough beds to house everyone so there is no need for anyone to be sent to jail to spend the night.

In our discussion it was agreed that there’s a major disconnect between what is on the books as policy and the on-the-ground reality in terms of how social services and housing is implemented. It became immediately clear when people started talking about the problems they’ve been facing, that the Region did not have access to this first-hand information. The Region did have the proper response however by acknowledging their deficit of information asking for more stories. While this may be just an excuse for them to deny responsibility for the results of the policies they implement, we will gladly oblige them by undertaking social investigation ourselves to document the housing crises we are facing and to collect concrete data on poverty, data the Region is missing.

In terms of our two demands the Region agreed to phase out the use of police cells as housing for poor people, replacing it with a program that we will run which entails the shelter offering the person the option of sleeping at a house, then the shelter would call a phone line monitored by us, we would offer to meet up with the housing client and take them to a vetted residence where they will stay overnight. The people who are volunteering their accommodations would have cleared a vulnerable persons check and other screen checks. They’ll be accompanied there by a Tent City Coordinating Committee volunteer who will join them at the accommodation for the night (if that is their preference). We agreed that every time a youth is offered to stay at the police station they would also be offered this option until finally there will be no need to even mention the cop shop. This idea was put forward by our organization because we feel that everyone has a duty and obligation to take social responsibility in the face of the failure of all levels of government to solve this crisis. A meeting will be set up to iron out the kinks and start implementing this program.

In terms of our second demand although no agreement was reached we are optimistic that we will get it, our alternative will be to squat and do it ourselves. Discussions will continue.

Advertisements

One Response to “Region agrees to end putting poor people in jail as housing”

  1. waterlooregionadvocate January 30, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    I hope to God, Doug that you never fall on hard times. What Julian and colleagues are doing is a good thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: