Residents plead for Summerside to act now on ‘heartbreaking’ homeless encampments | CBC News

Residents are pleading for city council in Summerside, P.E.I., to act quickly to help a growing homeless population.

At the monthly Summerside council meeting, Robert Wall — who was recently in the news after almost being evicted from his hotel room in Summerside — advocated on behalf of people experiencing homelessness in the city.

He said there are people sleeping in cars and tents, and urged council to find help for them as quickly as possible.

“I’ve seen people over the weekend that will just make you cry,” said Wall.

“We need something done like yesterday.”

There’s no for homelessness, he said, and the city should move quickly to create affordable housing or temporary shelters.

Wall was joined by about eight others who arrived together to hear his presentation to council. One of those was Ivy Inkpen, a former social worker and homeless co-ordinator from British Columbia who now lives in Summerside.

She volunteers her time helping people find housing in the city.

‘It’s time for the city to get involved, to get the province involved to act on this,’ says Ivy Inkpen. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Inkpen said there are situations in the city where many people are living in a single-family home, and more people are beginning to live outside in cars and tents in city parks.

“The one person that I did meet, like Robert said, it was heartbreaking. I had no idea when he’d had a change of clothes. There’s no information in regards to where he goes to have a shower, or when he’s had a shower last,” she said.

“It’s time for the city to get involved, to get the province involved to act on this. We need temporary shelters and we need them today, and that’s why I’m here.”

‘We will do whatever we can to work with the province’

Summerside councillor and deputy mayor Norma McColeman spoke to Wall during his presentation. She said councillors are hearing stories about homelessness more often, and that the city will meet with the province to find solutions immediately.

Summerside councillor and deputy mayor Norma McColeman says the city is committed to finding solutions immediately. (Ken Linton/CBC)

“We’re going to try and broker a meeting with Premier Dennis King, the ministers and the deputy ministers hopefully within a week to 10 days,” she told CBC News.

“We will do whatever we can to work with the province … if we can make that happen by brokering a meeting, we’re there.”

Wall asked that he be involved in that meeting with council and the P.E.I. government. He also said that Summerside, too, should receive mobile housing units like the ones that are slated to arrive in Charlottetown this December.

“Those pods in Charlottetown that Matthew MacKay brought up, they should be bringing them here to Summerside so people are not sleeping in tents or out in the woods somewhere,” said Wall.

“I want to be in that meeting so I can address what I saw firsthand.”

Inkpen added worry, looking at the track of Hurricane Fiona and how Summerside’s homeless population will be impacted by it. She said she’ll continue volunteering to help people find housing in the city.

“It gives you goosebumps,” she said. “People can die. That’s the last thing I want to see in Summerside is somebody dying because nobody did anything.”

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