Kitchener News | Local Breaking | CTV News Kitchener
Man living in shed, who refuses to go to shelter, finds a place to stay
Published Friday, January 17, 2020 8:02AM EST Last Updated Saturday, January 18, 2020 6:26PM EST
KITCHENER -- A man who has been living in a shed refuses to go to a shelter because he claims it encourages drug use.
Robert O’Shaughnessy is now calling for changes to the system after being forced out of that shed.
"I don't know where I'm going to go," said O’Shaughnessy.
O’Shaughnessy had been living in the shed behind a Cambridge home for the last six weeks, but has recently been told to leave.
In a statement to CTV News, the City of Cambridge says in part, "The City received complaints from the public about this property. Bylaw officials advised the owner of the property that under zoning by-law, habitation of an accessory building, such as a shed, is not permitted due to health and safety standards."
The city adds that the property owner did not give permission to have someone in his shed and that regional police issued a trespass order on private property.
"We sympathize with this individual and understand that members of our vulnerable population often have difficulty finding a place to live," a city representative says. "As soon as they city became aware of the situation, we reached out to Lutherwood to help locate suitable housing and supports for this person."
On Friday night, O'Shaughnessy confirmed he had a room to stay in and that his dog is able to stay with him.
The Region of Waterloo's housing department says community agencies The Bridges and Lutherwood are to thank. They add they and the City of Cambridge will be looking to find a permanent housing solution within the next few weeks.
O'Shaughnessy says he refuses to go to a shelter because drug use is rampant.
"It's supposed to be for a homeless shelter. It's not no more. It's basically an injection site," he explained.
O’Shaughnessy struggled with addiction for 14 years and is now celebrating 17 months clean.
He says there needs to be more options for people facing homeless, as not everyone who is homeless has the same struggles.
"You can't have people with psychological problems in a homeless shelter, people with addiction in a homeless shelter, and people that are trying to stay clean. That's like putting a rotten apple in a bushel of apples, eventually it's just all going to go bad," said O’Shaughnessy.
Homeless advocate Connie Cody says there is a gap in the system.
"We can't have a one size fits all solution, it's a multifaceted problem, and we need a variety of solutions out there to meet the different needs that exist," said Cody.
The House of Friendship admits drugs can be found in shelters, adding there aren't many options for people who are clean and homeless.
"Currently right now, shelters are only able to provide very minimal, a warm place, beds, some meals, some support, but not at the level of complexity that the individuals coming through our doors need," said John Neufeld, Executive Director for House of Friendship.
The House of Friendship says right now shelters are still facing capacity issues, saying more space is needed to house homeless individuals.
The shelter says they are working towards one day being able to offer the different complex services that are need.
O’Shaughnessy said he would like to see more affordable housing, so more people can have a place to call home.