Council heard presentation Tuesday night.
A long-time homelessness researcher in Sudbury says forced closure of homeless encampments is not a route the city should take.
Carol Kauppi is the director of the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy at Laurentian University, and has studied homelessness in northern Ontario for two decades.
She, along with the centre’s director of research, Kevin Fitzmaurice, gave a presentation to Sudbury city council Tuesday evening. The presentation followed one by homelessness consultant Iain De Jong last month, in which he provided a plan for addressing the city’s homeless encampments.
In her presentation, Kauppi took a firm stance against the forcible closure of encampments, and used recent evictions in Toronto as a cautionary tale.
“I would suggest stay away from that approach, it’s not helpful. Encampments simply pop up elsewhere,” Kauppi said.
She noted that in Toronto, where the city spent nearly $2 million to clear encampments and several people were injured during clashes with police, the “astounding majority” of those evicted were not successfully rehoused.
De Jong’s plan also describes forced evictions as something to be avoided. He said the goal should to connect people with services, and for them to eventually leave encampments voluntarily.
Providing basic services
Kauppi and Fitzmaurice also advocated for the city to provide services, such as water and washroom facilities, at encampments.
Kauppi said city’s have a responsibility to provide people with basic needs, and Fitzmaurice noted the need is greater during a pandemic.
“Providing those types of supportive services to encampments as opposed to clearing encampments is effective in containing COVID-19 rather than spreading COVID-19 into the community,” Fitzmaurice said. “That’s what the research is showing.”
Council voted last night to add Fitzmaurice and Kauppi to the city’s coordinated response table, which was recently formed to address encampments in the city.
Sudbury’s director of social services, Tyler Campbell, said the city is currently monitoring eight locations, six of which currently have “active” encampments.
Campbell said 14 people who were living in encampments have recently been housed.
Ultimately, Kauppi Fitzmaurice said the key way to address homelessness is to provide more housing, and in the immediate term, more shelter spaces.
City staff is currently exploring options for additional shelter spaces this winter, and will come back to council with a report later this month.
Original Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/sudbury-homelessness-city-council-carol-kauppi-kevin-fitzmaurice-1.6243667