Controversy surrounds Moncton campaign to report homeless
MONCTON -- There is controversy surrounding a new information campaign in Moncton that lists direct contacts to deal with social issues surrounding homelessness.
“Its part of a larger campaign that allows them to know where they go to, and where to report different situations that are going on in the city,” explains Austin Henderson, spokesperson for the city of Moncton. “To ensure that its getting streamlined and they’re getting in touch with the right people, at the right time, to avoid any run around.”
The infographic includes emails and phone numbers on who to call if things like panhandling, tent sites, or homeless people are spotted.
Its created backlash from many, with some online even referring to it as a snitch line.
“I thought the post that the city put out was absolutely shameful and sickening,” says Charlie Burrell, founder of the Humanity Project. “I think it helps create this ‘us versus them’ mentality, instead of educating the public with understanding and compassion to really move towards the solutions that we need to fix this problem.”
The YMCA Reconnect Program is listed as the point of contact under ‘vulnerable or homeless people’.
“You can contact us, and we would go and meet with that individual and see if we can provide them with some services, some food or water or clothing, or connect them with our community services,” says Trevor Godwin, senior director of YMCA Reconnect Outreach Services. “But we’re not the organization that you call to have somebody moved along.”
Those who have experienced homelessness say the information campaign needs to look at the broader picture of the lack of affordable housing in the city.
“Affordable housing in general, it’s very expensive here,” explains Shaun Mazerolle. “And if the price keeps going up and during COVID, people have less hours, they’re not making as much money, a lot of people lost their jobs.”
There’s now a call to action from many residents for the city to rethink the information campaign and divert resources to a different set of solutions.