Last night, City Council reinstated the Encampment Protocol and allocated over $1.1M to support transitional housing and services for people living in parks and other areas where risks to their health and safety are increased.
The protocol came into effect today, and will be enforced starting next week, with staff working with individuals camping in public spaces to find safer and more sustainable solutions.
“We have learned a lot in the last few years about encampments and the unique needs of the individuals who populate them,” says CAO Hurdle. “We have clear direction by Council and the City will approach the relocation and enforcement of the Encampment Protocol based on previous public complaints and by addressing smaller encampments, and then turning focus to more concentrated encampment areas. This will allow us the time and resources for a thoughtful and coordinated approach.”
How the Encampment Protocol will be enforced:
Initial identification and communication will occur with Street Outreach in collaboration with City By-Law. Street Outreach and By-Law staff will:
- Visit the site.
- Assess the situation.
- Complete a high-level assessment of health and safety on site.
- Complete a high-level assessment of needs and provide information on services available to unhoused individuals.
- Inform the Housing & Social Services Department of the situation and individuals’ needs assessment.
By-Law staff will then issue a six-hour notice of trespass. Street Outreach and Housing & Social Services staff continue to provide ongoing supports and work with individuals to provide alternative service options, including but not limited to: shelter, access to the Integrated Care Hub, motel/hotel, apartment, medical services, storage and transportation. All interactions and assessments are documented.
By-Law staff will conduct a follow-up visit to the site to ensure individuals are aware of alternative service options. Street Outreach staff will be supporting and available to assist individuals with alternatives to camping in cases where relocation is necessary through enforcement. Additional enforcement, such as police services, may be required depending on the situation.
Once public spaces have been vacated, By-Law and Public Works staff will determine the cleanup requirements in order to ensure that the space can be safely accessed and used by the public.
In cases where By-Law staff cannot attend the scene, Kingston Police will contact Street Outreach and prioritize the encampment complaint, dispatch officers (Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team where possible) to investigate, submit appropriate duty reports and share the information with City By-Law.
Where will those camping relocate?
Individuals transitioning from camping in the parks will be offered services on a case-by-case basis from Street Outreach to meet individual needs and remove barriers to safe and sustainable shelter. This could take many forms, such as the shelters, transportation to a secure shelter situation, case working or medical support.
The City is also working on multiple short and long-term housing and shelter strategies, including last night’s decision to reallocate over $1.1M to specifically support these transitions through expanded transitional housing and services.
“The City, and our community partners, are working tirelessly to develop solutions for people in encampment situations,” says Ruth Noordegraaf, Director of Housing and Social Services. “With more and more options opening up soon, we’re looking to expand capacity quickly to provide as many options as possible for unhoused individuals.”