Regina’s Carmichael Outreach is asking the public to donate tents to provide emergency overnight shelter for those in need.
As of Friday morning, Cora Gajari, the non-profit’s executive director, said they’ve reached a predicament as all the city’s shelters are at capacity.
“We’ve got people who are being turned away — even by Mobile Crisis that use to put people up in emergency shelters, such as a hotel room,” she said. “We have people coming here who have been sleeping outside at night, including women, which is extremely dangerous.”
Gajari said Carmichael’s noticed a significant increase in the number of people seeking housing help since the provincial government axed the Saskatchewan rental housing supplement July 1.
She added most people on social assistance have a budget of $459 for rent, and there are nearly no places available in Regina at that cost.
“These people, I figure, who are coming through our door for tents are probably new because they don’t know that (shelter) landscape, so I just see it as a further impending crisis,” she said.
URGENT: We are in desperate need of tents. We are having an unprecedented number of people coming to us with absolutely nowhere to go for shelter. While a tent is far from ideal, it is often the best we can do, especially at this urgent time. pic.twitter.com/5ylgJkNgNv
— Carmichael Outreach (@CarmichaelOR) August 16, 2018
In the last three days, Gajari said at least six tents have been handed out to those in need of shelter. However, it’s unclear where they’ve been able to find a spot to pitch it.
Thursday night, she said Carmichael sent one woman to the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp in Wascana Park “out of sheer desperation” because they have nowhere to send people.
According to one camper, that woman brought her tent but instead ended up spending the night inside a teepee.
At this point, Gajari mentioned she’s worried about those sleeping outside.
“My biggest concern, both personally and professionally, is that people are going to be subject to arrest, assault, harassment — especially vulnerable women,” she explained.
Working with Carmichael, the Regina Police Service (RPS) is familiar with the city’s housing issues.
Though it is illegal to set up camp around the city, RPS spokesperson Les Parker said officers do tend to show compassion in situations like this.
“We don’t want to condone any criminal activity, but at the same time, we’re not condemning somebody who needs to sleep and has nowhere to go either,” Parker explained, adding if anyone’s safety is at-risk officers will respond.
“(Police) aren’t out to cause a problem or pour gasoline on the issue, we really want public safety to be our number one goal.”
Anyone wishing to donate tents, sleeping bags and pillows can do so by dropping them off at Carmichael’s temporary location at the old Sears bargain centre from the Sixth Avenue and Rose Street entrance.