Tent city studied

The Yukon government has launched yet another study of the homelessness in Whitehorse. This one focused specifically on the campers who have pitched their tents on the lawn of the Yukon legislature.

The Yukon government has launched yet another study of the homelessness in Whitehorse.

This one focused specifically on the campers who have pitched their tents on the lawn of the Yukon legislature.

Last month Helen Hollywood, fed up with not being able to find an affordable place to stay, started camping on the lawn.

Her protest has attracted other people facing similar problems, activists and a smattering of tourists.

There are now close to 30 tents set up on the grass.

Last week, the government put up a “no camping” sign which was quickly taken down.

The government claimed putting the sign up was a “mistake.”

This week, they have hired a consultant to survey the campers.

“We want to help the individuals that need help and also want to provide alternative, safe, viable accommodations,” said Steve Nordick, the housing minister. “We just want to provide the help that’s needed.”

He pointed to some of the initiatives that the government has recently undertaken.

Earlier this month, the Yukon government announced it was giving $1 million to Kaushee’s Place to help build secure and affordable apartments for women fleeing violence.

The government also announced the construction of additional affordable housing units for families in the city, and the transformation of the Alexander Street elderly home into a supportive-living facility for the disabled.

“In the end it’s trying to do what’s right,” said Nordick.

The government’s consultant started her work this week, going from tent to tent interviewing the residents of the makeshift neighbourhood.

How long the process will take, Nordick couldn’t say.

“The quicker the process, the better,” he said. “The quicker we can identify safer viable accommodations for those campers, the better and the quicker we can provide assistance to those who need assistance the better.”

With the need so great and change happening slowly it can be a source of frustration for many people.

The housing problem is something that Glen Koe has seen grow worse in the last few years.

While Koe doesn’t camp on the lawn himself, he regularly stops by the tent city to help out.

Getting people off the street and offering them a place to live would go a long way to solving many of the other problems these people face, he said.

“When you don’t have housing, you’re lost,” said Koe.

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

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