A Better Tent City finds another temporary home in Kitchener
For the second time inside a year, A Better Tent City set up at a new location as it continues to search for a permanent home.
On Tuesday, the housing initiative relocated its 42 tiny homes, housing 50 people, to 49 Ardelt Avenue in Kitchener on property owned by the City of Kitchener and the Waterloo Region District School Board.
“It’s kind of surreal to see how quickly an entire community can move,” said Jeff Willmer, one of the lead volunteers with A Better Tent City.
A partnership between the city and the school board to use the site was reached in just the past few days according to Willmer – ahead of the Oct. 31st deadline for when the group needed to be out of its temporary site at the city’s snow storage facility on Battler Road.
In June, A Better Tent City moved to the site knowing it would only be temporary after its location on Lot 42 was sold.
“I think at first when we moved to Battler Road, people were worried and then they got warmed up after,” said Nadine Green, the site coordinator with A Better Tent City. “I think people are warming up to us.”
Green believes the new temporary site will be a good fit for the residents who have expressed their pleasure with the location – which is away from residential neighbourhoods.
Willmer sees the initiative as part of the solution to the issues associated with homelessness and believes it deserves a long-term home.
“It certainly, I think, is already proving its worth part of the solution. It’s not a one size fit all challenge,” said Willmer. “The other reality we’re realizing is that for people who are living with mental illness or drug addiction, a solution like this may be a reasonable longer-term solution; that they may not thrive even in supportive housing.”
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says the city is working with the Region and A Better Tent City to find a permanent location.
“Everyone is hoping to move this towards the kind of facility that will see some sort of permanent housing in place, consistent with the overall approach we take on homelessness and housing first,” said Vrbanovic.
For volunteers who unloaded the tiny homes on Tuesday, the hope is the next move is the last.
“I think what we’re looking at is how we can help people stabilize their lives more so that this type of a community is more transitional to either permanent housing or getting their lives back on track,” said Willmer.
All of the residents are expected to move back into their homes on Tuesday evening.
Most of the homes are expected to have electricity supplied to power radiators to keep the units warm. Next week, common facilities like washrooms and laundry will be added along with further supports including arts and woodworking spaces.