Those who claim to be social justice and poverty advocates often are the first ones to object when the issue of homelessness and addiction confronts them directly or moves into their backyard. The people of Peterborough are getting a direct education in cause and effect since tent cities started appearing in city parks, and they are failing the tests of basic decency and empathy.

Instead of attacking those who live in tent cities, let’s explore and debate the lack of affordable and community housing, the cuts in social services spending, and the lack of mental health services on a provincial and local level. Petitions to close tent cities do not solve the issues that have been exposed. By-law changes to park regulations do not build new housing units. Increased police presence and enforcement does not change the fact that one in five households in the city have an after-tax income of less than $30,000 – far higher than the provincial average. Directing anger at the homeless does nothing to change the fact that census numbers on core housing needs (spending more than 30% of total household income for shelter costs) reveal that housing insecurity is steadily growing in Peterborough and the surrounding area. NIMBY solves nothing, it only places the blame and onus on the most vulnerable among us.