North Bay homeless advocate says homeless problem could get worse
NORTH BAY -- A North Bay man advocating for the city's homeless population believes it's only going to get worse before the year ends.
Shane Moyer is part of a neighbourhood watch group, called North Bay Night Hawks, which goes around the city helping the homeless and cleaning up camps.
Moyer meets with homeless people in North Bay delivering sandwiches and snacks on a regular basis.
"Some of them will go two to three days without anything to eat," explained Moyer. "I was homeless for eight years when my wife passed away in 2007."
Moyer believes there are at least 200 people in the city who have no place to stay and instead are forced to make their own sleeping quarters. He says without structure from city brass, the situation is going to get much worse.
"With things happening the way that they are now, our homeless rate can easily rise by another 30 per cent," said Moyer.
When Moyer makes his rounds, he packs drinks, food and equipment used to pick up discarded needles and drug paraphanlia.
With the ban on evictions set at the start of the pandemic now lifted and sky high rent prices, Moyer is worried more people will be forced out on the streets. Moyer argues a pension benefit would alleviate a lot of the problems.
“People on assistance, on OWSP and ODSP and CPP can't afford the high rent as they keep going on the rise," said Moyer.
District of Nipissing Social Services Board (DNSSAB) Chair Mark King says the city is way below the need in terms of affordable housing.
"We're, by provincial standards, about 244 units short in the City of North Bay for affordable housing," King told CTV News.
King says the board is actively looking at ways to turn the low-barrier shelter on Chippewa St. to a 24 hour facility instead of running it half of the day to meet the demand.
"There's about 10-12 people using it right now. We're actually in the process, with the developer, to move in another portable up against the existing portables," said King.
But Moyer argues it's not enough. He says a lack of structure from city council and the federal government is partially to blame.
"A lot of people are camping all over the place and they're being chased around all over the place by city bylaw," concluded Moyer. "There's no safe place for them to be and there's no structured environment."
Moyer hopes that through his work, he can help get the homeless population that he interacts with back on their feet.