Homelessness: Centraide Outaouais measured the social impact of the encampment

An investigation conducted by Centraide Outaouais concludes that the camp of 48 heated tents deployed this winter by Devcore at the Robert-Guertin Center had “very positive effects” on the people living there.

Respondents highlighted the positive impacts of having a roof over their heads, a place to warm up in winter, and a greater sense of community between campers and responders.

Another element of response that surprised Centraide Outaouais and its general director, Cédric Tessier, by its prevalence, is the feeling of security generated by the camp.

According to the organization, all the people interviewed immediately mentioned the benefits of living in a safe place and not being constantly on alert. The proximity of the workers also helped reduce the anxiety and stress of the people living in the camp.

Social impact advisor, Marilyne Caouette conducted 25 interviews in March with campers. Although Devcore gave Centraide Outaouais teams access to the camp, the company did not participate in the investigation itself.

Still irritants for campers

In addition to the lack of showers, campers raised other issues related to the current form of the project. One of them, Carol Beauchamp, said she was often awakened by the inspections carried out during the day by the workers, inspections to make sure you don’t overdose.

Mr. Beauchamp says he supports the initiative, but would like to see changes in the management and frequency of interventions.

Another camper, Pierre Lafrenière, is skeptical of the sincerity of organizations who say they want to help people experiencing homelessness. “The solution is to create subsidized social housing. There was a big sign on the boulevard, but it is no longer there. Where are these apartments? We are still waiting for them,” he adds.

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Pierre Lafrenière (left) and Carol Beauchamp (right) emphasize that the tent project is only a temporary solution.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Maxim Allain

Disastrous regional record, varied needs

The region is experiencing the largest increase in homelessness since 2018 in Quebec, i.e. 268%, according to Centraide Outaouais.

This solution is not for everyone, it is important to remember that. It doesn’t take one solution to resolve homelessness issues, it takes a range of solutions.

A quote from Cédric Tessier, general director, Centraide Outaouais

Cédric Tessier hopes that phase 2 can fill certain gaps in the project and facilitate access to social services for people living in the camp.

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The number of places was limited to 50 for the camp at the Robert-Guertin Center last winter. (Archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathieu Deroy

For his part, the general director of the Outaouais Drug Intervention and Prevention Center, Yves Séguin, deplores that in the fall, when selecting who could live in the camp, “people who are more disorganized or less mobilized for change” were not chosen.

People who use more actively or who use substances that people consider more dangerous […] are not welcome in this type of project. And that’s what worries us, we are in the process of excluding the most excluded.

A quote from Yves Séguin, general director of CIPTO

Mr. Séguin affirms that people rejected by these services “are more at risk of overdoses” since they often find themselves isolated.

The Devcore company will hold a press briefing Thursday morning to announce the rest of the project.

With information from Charlotte Tremblay and Frédéric Pepin

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