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Cabins for the homeless in Hamilton still looking for land

Cabins for the homeless in Hamilton still looking for land

A plan to build tiny cabins for the homeless in Hamilton is gathering support, the only thing missing is the land.

  When the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board offered the lands around Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAMS) school for the building of 10 tiny houses the gears started turning.

  The proponents, a community group called Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) started picking up more support from service groups.

 Now they have learned Sir John A MacDonald was flooded sometime in February, the school is unsafe and may be torn down sooner rather than later.

  So a city wide search for an alternate location is underway.

The news was delivered at a meeting of the city’s Emergency Services committee yesterday.

  It was made clear that wherever the cabins locate they will be “treated like any other development.”That means building permits and site plan approval may be part of the process.

  The SJAMS site appealed to HATS because of its location near support services for the homeless. But the site also raised red flags for some. At a key entrance to the city and near the evolving “entertainment” district, critics including Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr believe there are more suitable locations-owned by the city.

  The cabins would have electricity, plumbing and heat. The committee was told by HATS organizers yesterday that meals would be delivered by Wesley Urban Ministries and showers and laundry facilities offered as well.

  The tiny cabins initiative is partially modelled on a program in Kitchener called A Better Tent City. Though HATS stressed there would be no tents allowed in Hamilton’s small cabin community.

  Tony D’Amato Stortz was involved in the Kitchener program and is now advising HATS.

While interviewing people living rough in Hamilton he learned that there is strong “buy in” for the cabin community.

  “About 92 percent said they would work on the site, cleaning, gardening, picking up garbage.”

  Emergency Services committee members were also told the cabin community philosophy is 

“move in and move on,” with the cabins being a step to permanent housing for the homeless.

  City staff were directed to keep looking for a suitable site. HATS had hoped to have the cabins in place soon-by April-to get people out of the coldest weather.

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