As the weather stays warm more consistently, you might see more unhoused residents living in small outdoor shelters by themselves or in a group. These encampments can be made up of tents or even cardboard structures. When an encampment is reported, have you ever wondered what happens afterwards?
Aysha Farouk, a Project Coordinator with the City who is on a team tasked with developing a people-first plan to help residents living in encampments. Since she started this position in 2019, the number of reported encampments more than tripled because of the pandemic. In response, Aysha and her team created a collaborative approach with multiple City departments and community partners to ensure these resident feels safe and cared for.
So, what exactly is done after the City is notified of an encampment? Once a report is made, a City team coordinates with an outreach partner, such as the Salvation Army, to discuss the best way to approach that individual resident. The outreach team then goes to the encampment to ensure there are no dangers to the resident or the immediate area and offers the resident a variety of resources, such as:
- Food and water
- Information on housing and shelter options
- Transportation to a different location of the resident’s choice such as a friend or family member’s residence or a shelter
- Help with documents needed to access City programs or health services
The final step of dismantling the encampment keeps the health and safety of the resident as the number one priority. Outreach services works with the clients to respond to their immediate needs while discussing sheltering options.
This resident-focused, multi-step approach to encampments was developed with a wide range of partners. The success of collaboration with community partners, outreach groups and other contributors led to them forming a task force to continue exchanging information and fine-tuning best practices to minimize the risks for residents. The task force now has over 70 attendees who meet monthly.
If you or someone you know needing support, visit ottawa.ca/socialservices. To learn more about Housing Services with the City, or to read about the 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan, visit ottawa.ca.