City of Hamilton Encampment Protocol
For comments and concerns regarding encampments, please contact the Coordinated Response Team at [email protected] or call 905-546-2828
The number and email are monitored Monday to Friday during regular business hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm). All concerns shared will be actioned as appropriate within a 72-hour response time.
Report immediate threats to the safety and well-being of any community member, including loss of consciousness, frostbite, heat stroke, substance poisoning, or harassment by calling 9-1-1.
The City of Hamilton recognizes the challenges faced by the unhoused members of our community as an intersection of the complex pressures and social inequities which existed before, and were exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic: high costs of living, income not keeping pace with inflation, affordability and availability of places to call home, as well as the challenges or barriers related to mental health, addiction and those escaping domestic violence. Shelters and services have been pushed to capacity, with many community members faced with the reality of having nowhere else to go.
In its National Housing Strategy legislation, the Government of Canada recognizes housing as a human right.
In line with that strategy, the City remains committed to the long-term goal of permanent housing for all, and protecting the dignity of unsheltered individuals, ensuring homeless and unhoused individuals receive the supports they need in the short-term, acknowledging that the long-term solution – safe and supportive housing – is one which Hamilton, and cities across Canada, cannot respond to quickly enough given the growing, immediate needs of the unhoused in our community.
The City provides several housing and homelessness support services in the community and financial support to numerous community partners. Housing-related services the City provides include support for the City’s housing authority and community partners, rental support, homelessness outreach, support for emergency shelters and transitional housing for residents experiencing homelessness. The City operates many of these with or on behalf of the provincial government and has received annual funding contributions.
In line with increasing demand, the City of Hamilton increased its housing-related budget in 2023 by 30% to more than $70 million, making it the largest investor in housing in the City’s overall housing budget, which reaches $146.6 million when accounting for contributions by the federal and provincial governments. Over the past few years, the City’s contribution to housing has grown faster than its provincial or federal government housing partners.
Canadian legislation, in the National Housing Strategy Act, recognizes housing as a human right, something that has been affirmed in international law. In addition, an Ontario court recently issued a decision that addressed the issue of individuals sleeping rough due to a lack of shelter space being available. In the recent decision in Region of Waterloo v. Persons Unknown, the courts decided that the Section 7 Canadian right, that is the right to life, liberty and security of person, was breached when and where there is not enough accessible shelter spaces for homeless individuals living in an encampment on the Region’s property.
In addition to evolving legal principles, homelessness in Hamilton and in other areas of Canada has hit crisis levels. In recognition of this, the City of Hamilton declared homelessness as a state of emergency in April 2023, joining the City of Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Region. These declarations highlight the need for the investments and interventions required to take immediate action on the intersecting crises of homelessness, housing affordability and addictions and mental health. These declarations highlight the need for additional and rapid support and investment from the governments of Ontario and Canada to end chronic homelessness, prioritizing health and social service supports for the most vulnerable in our community, including unhoused women, youth and Indigenous persons.
We want to hear from you!
We are asking members of the public to review and comment on the proposals being considered by City Council to inform the materials that will be presented to Council in August 2023.