Windsor Homeless Drop-In Centre Pushes For Tent City

Officials from several Windsor organizations have held a brainstorming session to try and combat the growing problem of homelessness, and one shelter is pushing for a 'tent city.'

The meeting Wednesday morning at Windsor City Hall, was prompted by an increased numbers of calls in the past month to the city about residents feeling uncomfortable about what they are witnessing on city streets, from people talking to themselves to abandoned shopping carts to petty property crimes.

Representatives from the city,  Windsor police, Hotel-Dieu Grace Health Care, Street Help, Salvation Army, Downtown Mission and the Canada Mental Health Association met for about 90 minutes and they plan to meet again to come up with short-term and long-term solutions.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says the goal is to come up with a solution that makes a difference.

"This problem is getting worse and we need to find solutions as a team to address the problems that we are seeing out on the street," he says. "I can't do this alone, the premier couldn't do this alone and the prime minister couldn't do this alone."

Street Help, a homeless drop-in centre on Wyandotte St., is pushing for a 'tent city' in Windsor, as a place for homeless people to go.

Volunteer Barry Furlonger says a tent city would help to remove homeless off city streets.

"They have a tent city on a piece of abandoned land where they can go, where they have some porta-potties and water and a place to put a tent and the second stage is they are building tiny houses."

He says the issue is the result of chronic underfunding for homelessness and housing.

"If you are uncomfortable, welcome to the new normal," he says. "We can't just put our heads in the sand and keep chasing people from here to there and here to there, it doesn't solve the problem."

CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Health Care Janice Kaffer was invited to attend the meeting as the hospital operates the Transitional Stability Centre on Ouellette Ave.

"From a perspective of health and safety and health and social services, it is really nice as a provider of mental health and addictions hospital based services to be at the table."

Dilkens says the city has made efforts to address the issue from hiring more police officers, outreach workers and purchased needle bins.

In order to find a viable solution, he says everyone needs to be around the table to 'hash out the issue'.