Unsheltered Press Release April 11 2020


We need a fighting chance for our unsheltered residents

Kitchener— April 11, 2020 — Immediate action is needed for setting up COVID emergency facilities, tents, and cold weather supplies to be provided for all unsheltered local residents as Sunday night and Monday with more snow, rain and damaging winds will put those without any roof at greater health and virus outbreak risks.

Despite the best current efforts of the coordinated regional response team that ensured 24/7 in-shelter stays for 400 homeless in the region, there are at least 200 people still unsheltered on the empty streets, including the overnight guests at YMCA overflow. Major challenges for the system are staffing and appropriate central locations to accommodate access to basic needs such as water, washrooms and showers, food, healthcare and safety for the ones left behind.

“Most of the homeless live with multiple disabilities and chronic health conditions. The humanitarian crisis that was in the making with the grave housing unaffordability is now showing its terrifying face, the persisting inequities for the poor and disabled,  we failed to address as a society” says Aleksandra Petrovic form the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, an organization that supports advocates with lived experience of poverty and disabilities.In a crisis situation such as the pandemic, we cannot distance ourselves from human suffering. That is why we need to rethink system and community responses and with the Ontario government’s commitment to make it easier “to repurpose existing buildings and put up temporary structures, like tents”, we ask the coordinated municipal and healthcare service providers think of the needs of the most at risk in terms of field-hospitals and immediately:

-Set up central locations, such as the Victoria Park or the Pavilion, allow the use of the local Oktoberfest tents for example, to quickly provide a temporary site that can be easily accessed by healthcare providers and also be self-monitored, and supported by the broader community.

-Re-purpose without hesitation public and private facilities and buildings (hotels, motels, student housing, recreation centres, commercial properties) for the homeless in shelters or unsheltered who need access to greater care due to serious pre-existing conditions, symptoms and health needs. 

 The two local advocates in united support with the local grassroots community have put together a petition to our local government requesting “Care and Precautions for the Unsheltered NOW” hosted on Change.org . As of April 11th, 2020 it had garnered 707 signatures.

“We are dealing not only with needing to address this pandemic scale situation, but coming from a further disadvantage because these individuals having suffered for years at the hand of systematic neglect and dehumanization. Many do not trust our systems and this means we need alternate solutions geared to the users needs to allow their comfort. There remain basic survival measures that are lacking for these people. It is still cold outside. They are freezing. It’s time to take action while we also consider the ongoing plan and manage its further implementation.” says local advocate Regan Sunshine Brussé. "It's past time to implement interim measures."

As we come together globally, locally, communally, recognizing our need to protect our most vulnerable, those at most risk of dying in the pandemic, we cannot envision a more eloquent metaphorical image of "we are in this together"!

Let us design and create this portrait in unity.


For more information please contact either:

Regan Sunshine Brussé - Anti-Poverty Advocate



Cell: 519-721-6981




Aleksandra Petrovic

Executive Director - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region


Phone: 519-579-3800/4

Cell: 519-721-7033