Community Counselling & Resource Centre

A homeless Peterborough family is about to lose everything

March 22nd, 2018

A homeless family is on the verge of losing all its belongings.

“We have no place to go,” says Diana Thornley.

The 30 year old, her sister and brother in-law have been sleeping at the Warming Room since losing their permanent housing in February.

“We haven’t been able to find a place because rent is way too high,” she says.

Because they are on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), the trio can only afford a place under $1,200 between the three of them.

Currently their belongings are split between a storage unit that costs about $300 a month and a small camping trailer which is parked in the Brock Street parking lot.

“We were going to stay here but the City says it is illegal for us to stay in our trailer, especially in a parking lot,” explains Thornley.

She says they have been there since March 8, but they’ve been told to move by today at 1 p.m. or it will be towed, despite them paying whatever they can for parking.

The family is also struggling to pay its storage unit bill because ODSP cut its shelter allowance because they don’t have permanent housing.

“We’re going to lose everything,” says Thornley’s sister Ruby Sock.

Homeless camps in city parks have 10 days before their camps are dismantled by public works. According to Mike Gannon, acting manager of social services, that protocol doesn't apply to people living in their cars or trailers in municipal parking lots.

"That would be under parking control, if there were any issues," he said.

Gannon said that if anyone were found living in a car, City staff would check on them to ensure they were safe and then try to help them find someplace else to live.

Lynn Todd, the parking operations co-ordinator for the city, said municipal parking lots aren't any place to camp or to store a trailer.

"We don't want anyone to be living there, obviously," she said.

"And they (parking lots) are not storage facilities."

Thornley says the camper isn't suitable to live in, but the family is trying to fix it and find somewhere legal to park because they don’t anticipate finding housing any time soon.

“We find places but it is either for students or we are not able to afford it,” she says.