Desperate times call for desperate measures

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Bialasiewicz

Could Windsor soon have a warehouse, a tent city and even a curfew for the homeless?

Christine Wilson-Furlonger, director of Street Help, told that those were some of the ideas bounced around at a meeting on Wednesday aimed at solving homelessness across the city.

Wilson-Furlonger said a city-sanctioned and owned homeless building near downtown would be a quick and temporary solution, as winter is quickly approaching, and it would free up more police officers to deal with real crime because the homeless and mentally ill are not scattered. Furlonger said Windsor is far behind other cities when it comes to addiction and outreach services and youth and family shelters.

“I have nowhere I can send somebody with their addictions even if they are trying to get off drugs. We just don’t have that existing in Windsor,” said Wilson-Furlonger.

Wilson-Furlonger said city council, the police and social service agencies are all under pressure to do something soon and this type of accommodation model works in Toronto and Vancouver. She said the ultimate goal and ideal solution to the homeless and housing crisis in Windsor would be more affordable housing and funding from the federal and provincial governments. Furlonger said 4,000 applications are waiting for affordable housing in Windsor and some households might wait six to eight years to get it.

Wilson-Furlonger said there is a surge of new addicts coming to Windsor and a growing population of homeless youth and social workers in the proposed shelter 24-7 would help.

“How about if they are working in the building during the daytime hours as well providing support for the folks to find out how we can get them off the street,” she said.

Wilson Furlonger said a warehouse, a tent city and a curfew would help the homeless get the help they need and police do the job they are paid to do.

“Inside the shelter why don’t we take some of those police officers that are being hired and they will actually police the facility all night so we don’t have to worry about any crime taking place,” Wilson-Furlonger said.

Twelve new police officers are being hired to help deal with rising downtown crime.