August 14, 2020
We are writing in response to Terry Whitehead’s opinion piece (Aug. 10) on encampments in the City of Hamilton. As front line workers who directly support individuals experiencing homelessness, a majority of shelters are not low barrier, as there are strict rules and guidelines that must be followed. For example, if a resident is not engaged in a housing plan and reaches the maximum stay of six weeks, residents will be service restricted for 60 days due to noncompliance as per city guidelines for male shelters. Extensions can be granted on case by case basis but are still time limited. We are curious to know the statistics on service restrictions and turnaways that occur throughout the shelter system on a monthly basis as the numbers presented by Terry are inaccurate. First Ontario Centre opened at the beginning of COVID-19 to ensure that bed capacity remained the same while maintaining social distancing within the men’s shelter system. There was no increase in bed availability.