Alan, 52, is homeless and a self-described addict. He refuses to use an emergency shelter and sleeps rough, even in winter.

CBC met Alan on Rideau Street, where he panhandles, on a day in early December when it was –12 C, –20 with the windchill.

He cuddled a small dog as he sat cross-legged on the pavement, a blanket draped over his knees. In front of him was a scrap of cardboard, the words “Homeless — Anything would be helpful” scrawled on it.