Crowded shelter or $880 fine? Homeless face ‘impossible’ coronavirus choice

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On Monday, a brother and sister watched as the makeshift shelters they were living in were dismantled and their community ordered to disperse.

The siblings had been part of a group who’d set up camp on private property in Hamilton, Ont., before the owner ultimately decided he wanted them out.

Now, they were trying to figure out where to sleep.

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As an inner-city doctor working with the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team, which caters to people who can’t easily access healthcare in traditional ways, many of Dr. Jill Wiwcharuk’s clients do not have homes — this brother and sister included.

Where to next? They had two dogs and each other, making it hard to go to a shelter and still stick together. Sticking together was non-negotiable.

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“They opted to sleep rough,” Wiwcharuk says, meaning they opted to sleep outside. It was just a question of where.

“In discussing where they were going to go, one of the options was a place that (the brother) had been before at a city park,” she says. “But he said he had received over 15 tickets for having been there in the past.”

That’s thousands of dollars in tickets,



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