Raymond Ahlstrom is saying good riddance to his tent at Nanaimo’s Discontent City.
“I like it,” said Ahlstrom about moving. “[I] have a key and a washroom to myself.
The homeless man and 150 more began tearing down their tents on the camp Friday and started relocating to temporary modular housing at two supervised sites in Nanaimo: one at Labieux Road and one on Terminal Avenue. The land at Labieux Road was made available by the city and the one on Terminal Avenue was bought by BC Housing.
“It’s really a good thing because future people after us will have a place to go to you know,” said Ahlstrom.
Morgana King was tearful as she packed up.
“I wasn’t sure that the whole tent city thing was going to work,” said the homeless woman.
“I thought at the end of it that we wouldn’t even get housing and that it would just get shut down. It feels amazing to finally be able to get out of the cold, the rain. I’ve wanted this for a very long time and the fact that it’s actually happening now is crazy. I’m excited I see a bright future now.”
“Today, approximately 15 people will move from the tent city into housing,” said Executive Director of BC Housing Dominic Flanagan said on Friday, approximately 15 people moved from tent city into housing.
“And I’ve been down at the site this morning and I can say that people are so excited and so looking forward to moving in.”
More will follow each day through mid-next week.
“We’re aiming to close the entire camp by the middle of next week,” said Flanagan.
Each homeless person is being helped out by outreach workers with BC Housing to pack up and move into temporary trailers.
Officials are still in the process of trying to convince the new supervised sites’ neighbours they will be minimally disruptive in their communities.
“Each site will have staff on the site 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Flanagan.
Ahlstrom thinks helping the homeless will help Nanaimo too.
“I think the crime rate will go down too over time right,” said Ahlstrom.
As Nanaimo tries a new approach to a problem that’s been growing here for years.