Singing the tenting blues

Keara Campbell doesn't have much faith that housing options will change when a new government is elected. Then again, she's hoping she'll no longer be living in the tent city outside the Yukon legislature by that point.

Keara Campbell doesn’t have much faith that housing options will change when a new government is elected.

Then again, she’s hoping she’ll no longer be living in the tent city outside the Yukon legislature by that point.

About 18 tents are still clustered in small clumps outside the government building, down from 30 in July.

“The last few weeks have been freezing,” said 18-year-old Campbell.

Campbell has been living in Whitehorse’s tent city since July 1.

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She’s hoping that she and her boyfriend will have a place to move into by the end of the week.

“We may have to stay here longer though,” she said. “But it’s making me sick.”

In the past week, Campbell and her boyfriend have looked at seven or eight different places to live in.

“We’ve had people tell us, ‘Sorry no pets’ or ‘We don’t rent to anyone under 30,’” said Campbell.

And the couple can’t live out of town because they don’t have a car.

Neither of them expected to still be living in a tent by September.

“We both have good jobs,” she said.

This week a seven-metre-long trailer rolled onto the lawn of the legislature.

The couple who own the trailer don’t appear to be leaving anytime soon.

They have already set up recycling bins outside their trailer and a side table with fake plants beside the front door.

They may not be the only ones who stay past the fall.

“There’s a few people here (in tents) that have said they’re staying for the winter,” said Campbell.

It’s not easy living though, she said.

“Random people run through here screaming sometimes,” she said.

There’s also been fights between some of the tent dwellers.

“We had to call the cops on one of the residents three times,” said Campbell.

NDP Leader Liz Hanson has stopped by to talk to some of the tent city dwellers.

“We need to look at immediate solutions,” she said.

Hanson suggests partnering with people in the faith community or bringing in trailers to house people for the winter.

“If there was a forest fire and people lost their homes, like in Slave Lake, AB, we would find ways,” she said.

When a forest fire ripped through the small Alberta town this summer, the city of Slave Lake rolled in trailers for residents to live in until new homes were built.

Hanson and Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell are both frustrated that people aren’t yet living in the set of empty duplexes on Taylor Street marked for social housing.

The 16 units have been under renovation for the last year and were supposed to be ready to live in at the beginning of the summer.

“There needs to be a full-court press to make those units ready immediately,” said Mitchell.

He suggests housing some of the homeless in hotels for the winter.

“Some people may take advantage, but there is a genuine need out there,” he said.

“It’s too late for long-term solutions.”

The Yukon Party did not return calls for this story.

Contact Vivian Belik at

rmostyn@yukon-news.com

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