A homeless man who hitchhiked to Cape Breton because he needed a bed at a local emergency shelter says people who stay there are treated like criminals.

Keith, who didn’t want his last name used, told the Cape Breton Post he’s been sleeping at the Community Homeless Shelter since Dec. 6. He spent the first few nights at the former Margaret Street location but said it’s been a much different experience since the shelter relocated to Townsend Street on Dec. 9.

Now he said people who come to the shelter are forced to empty their pockets and staff search their bags.

“They search you like they’re cops. That’s not the way to treat somebody that’s having a hard time,” said Keith, 50, a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have rights. Just because we’re homeless and in a bad situation doesn’t mean you have the right to treat us like we’re going to jail.”