Living in a tent: the presence of homeless people in downtown Charlottetown is disturbing

Living in a tent: the presence of homeless people in downtown Charlottetown is disturbing

Homeless people reside in tents in downtown Charlottetown.

Charlottetown police are reporting an increase in complaints about homeless people living in tents downtown in Prince Edward Island's capital.

Littering in public space and trespassing on private property are among these complaints.

Some members of the group, all men, live in tents from time to time for a few years.

One ​​of these people, Allan Macdonald, was homeless until he got a place in a shelter in Charlottetown.

“There is not enough housing for everyone.

— Allan Macdonald, shelter resident

For him, the increase in the price of rents on the island contributes to more people find themselves in tents downtown.

The little housing there is, probably. We have seen the rent double over the past year or two, says Allan Macdonald.

Allan MacDonald, left, lived in tents in downtown Charlottetown. He sometimes stops there to visit his friends.

The vacancy rate on the island was 1.5% in 2021, one of the lowest in the Atlantic.

Rent prices rose 8 per cent last year, the biggest increase in a decade in the province, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Lack of places in shelters would also contribute to aggravate this reality, according to some of these people experiencing homelessness.

“We don't have no choice but to live this way because we don't have anyone who wants to rent us a place. »

— Steve Wotton, homeless person

The conditions imposed by these establishments would not please everyone either.

Steve Wotton moved into a tent after being unable to find a shelter that would allow him to keep his dog.

Steve Wotton, one such homeless person, says he's been denied entry to shelters because of his dog.

Allan McDonald considers the fact that he was able to find a place in a shelter to be an exception.

I had luck. I have a place to go, so I have a roof over my head now, a warm bed, clean clothes, white teeth. I wish everyone could have that, he said.

Currently, there are four shelters in Charlottetown.

In a statement, Charlottetown Police Chief Brad MacConnell says the city is working with the province to find accommodation for these people living in tents downtown.

It's not just a police problem, it's not just a police problem. city ​​of Charlottetown, and that's why it's going to take a collaborative approach, says Brad MacConnell.

Charlottetown Police Chief Brad MacConnell.

There several months ago, the island government hinted that a new homeless shelter could open this year.

Creating access to safe and affordable housing in our communities is a primary goal of all levels of government in our province, says a statement signed by the Department of Social Development and Housing, the Charlottetown Police Department and the City of Charlottetown.

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A study carried out by the John Howard Society last year shows that the number of homeless people on the island increased by 71% between 2018 and 2021.

With information from CBC

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