Toronto’s homeless encampments are back on the fringes. Here’s why that’s a problem

From the Toronto Star article

In a narrow crevice between the soft earth of the Rosedale ravine and a concrete bridge just below Bloor Street, a 32-year-old man has lived in a makeshift camp, on and off, for months.

The man, who identified himself only as John, sometimes turns to Toronto’s shelter network to take a shower. He was once offered a shelter hotel spot, but kept feeling like there’d be a catch.

A handful of others live around John’s camp — six or seven lately, he estimates. He believes the ravine specifically draws in those who’ve struggled with living around other people.

As summer begins, they’re among the dozens of people weathering life under Toronto’s bridges, and in its parks, trails and ravines.

One year after encampments in high-profile locations such as Trinity Bellwoods Park and Lamport Stadium Park were thrust to the forefront of public debate, the number of camps citywide is down. Trinity Bellwoods is now empty of tents, but you can find makeshift structures and slung-up tarps in Toronto’s quieter, more concealed corners — with many remaining camps, like John’s, existing out of plain sight.

“I think it’s so important that people understand what’s happening,” said Dr. Stephen Hwang, a physician with St. Michael’s Hospital with a research focus on homelessness. That people still choose to live in ravines suggests Toronto is falling short of offering the help people need, he argued.

“The risk is not just that people will continue to be homeless on the street, or numbers will grow, but that we’ll become anesthetized to the problem — that we’ll stop seeing it as a human tragedy, and more as just a nuisance to be gotten rid of,” Hwang said.

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