LETTER: Tent cities fight for the right to daytime shelter

There is a lot of negative sentiment around the emergence of tent cities, especially from neighbours who argue that tent cities have a negative impact on the community. They often argue that people living in tents trash the neighbourhood. But the reality is much more complex than the assumptions made by people who rarely take the time to think about why tent cities exist in the first place.

Tent cities provide an alternative for people who might not find shelters to be an adequate option for them (because it doesn’t allow couples or pets, for example). Tent cities also provide a sense of community and belonging that cannot be found in shelters.

Additionally, public health experts recognize the harm reduction potential of tent cities, especially in the midst of an overdose crisis.

However, one piece that has been missing from the conversation when we talk about tent cities is the crucial issue that they are bringing to the forefront of the debate around homelessness: the right to daytime shelter.

While homeless people have access to some options to shelter themselves at night (in shelters for example – when beds are available), there are very few places where homeless people can exist during the day without being harassed or criminalized. Some shelters have daytime drop-in programs, but those are typically only available for a few hours and the very few shelters open during the day cannot come close to accommodating all homeless people in Victoria. This means that many homeless folks often have nowhere to go from 7am to 7pm. When they attempt to seek shelter during the day (by going into retail businesses or pitching tent in a park to protect themselves from the elements), they are often harassed and criminalized by the public and law enforcement.

Shouldn’t the right to housing, a fundamental human right as defined by many organizations and echoed by our Prime Minister, extend to daytime? Tent cities continue to pop up across North America because they offer something that other housing options fail to provide: daytime shelter. And it’s only a matter of time until our government recognizes that homeless people have a right to access shelter during the day.

People’s basic human needs don’t stop existing after 7 or 9am.

Gaë​lle Nicolussi

Saanich

Just Posted

New report finds B.C. victims of opioids crisis on lower of end of socio-economic spectrum

UVic scholar calls for decriminalization of drugs responsible for opioid crisis

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visits with Langford high school students

Students asked him questions about current political issues

Building permits up, but residential construction softening in Greater Victoria

Greater Victoria led the province in issuing new building permits in August

City of Victoria to see 588 affordable housing units

Provincial funding is aiming to see 4,900 new mixed-income rental properties across B.C.

Victoria Curling Club, arena parking lot considered for new Crystal Pool location

Considering other vendors could cost Victoria first year of provincial and federal funding

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Student arrested at Vancouver Island elementary school

Pupils never in danger, incident unrelated to the school

POLL: Have BC Ferry waits ever forced you to cancel your travel plans?

Many BC Ferry passengers heading out from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on… Continue reading

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

Racist slur cleaned off memorial at Qualicum First Nation graveyard

Site was hit by vandals on Friday; many immediately offered support and assistance

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Most Read