|Position Statement: Persons in Public Places
Draft Date: August 24, 2018
Date Approved by Membership: September 21, 2018
Date Amended by Membership:
PURPOSE: The purpose of this statement is to outline the Windsor Essex Alliance to End Homelessness’s position on the activities of people experiencing homelessness in public places. We acknowledge that it is impossible to know at all times which individuals in public places are experiencing homelessness, but we believe starting with compassion in all interactions is a valuable position.
BACKGROUND: People experiencing homelessness often spend a significant amount of time in public places. Within these public places they may engage in activities more commonly conducted in private. This can include sitting/laying/sleeping, storing of personal effects, consumption of substances, intimate relationships, arguing with a friend/lover, or attending to one’s personal needs. For those experiencing homelessness in particular, a contributing factor for engaging in these activities in public is the lack of personal, private space. We note that some of these activities are offences under municipal by-laws or the criminal code, particularly when conducted in public. We believe that preventing and ending homelessness would go a long way in alleviating these issues. However, until such time, the following are our positions:
POSITION 1: We believe that the following principles should guide any interactions with people experiencing homelessness who are engaging in private activities in public spaces:
Position 2: Major events can place a particular strain on these issues. Increased policing and security around such events can lead to increased interactions based on private activities conducted in public spaces. Therefore, in addition to the above principles, we would add the following positions regarding major events:
Conclusion: The Windsor Essex Alliance to End Homelessness acknowledges that individuals experiencing homelessness may engage in private behaviours within public spaces, often due to the lack of alternative spaces to live their lives. We invite our members and all other persons who may seek to address these behaviours to follow the principles listed above, which we believe will lead to best outcomes for those experiencing homelessness.