Temporary Overflow Shelter Beds Added At Peterborough Public Library As Homeless Crisis Grows

With the Tent City at Victoria Park (see pictures) growing in numbers—and this area in the midst of a heat wave and possibility of severe thunderstorms—the community is acting.

Youth Emergency Shelter, Brock Mission, Fourcast, United Way of Peterborough and District, and the City of Peterborough are partnering to temporarily open 15 overflow beds at Peterborough Public Library, plus another 15 overflow beds at the Youth Emergency Shelter.

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

COORDINATED APPROACH TO OVERFLOW BEDS

Peterborough Social Services is coordinating intake at the Peterborough Public Library when the overflow bed space opens at 9 p.m. each night. People will be directed to available space at a shelter—Brock Mission, Cameron House, or Youth Emergency Shelter—or to one of the overflow shelter beds at the Library or Youth Emergency Shelter.

People who use the overflow beds will be asked to be out of the space by 8 a.m. each morning.

The coordinated approach to providing overflow beds will also connect people with support services and housing programs. Housing first is the goal rather than having people live in shelters.

In the meantime, the City is working with community partners to secure a longer-term location for the provision of overflow beds.

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

Youth Emergency Shelter has been able to make the space for 15 overflow beds available for individuals of all ages, even though it normally only provides beds for youth and families. The shelter and housing providers have been able to move families into housing and other accommodations, which has opened up space for overflow beds as a temporary service.

Homeless people who are camping at the Tent City and elsewhere should go to the Library at 9 p.m. to speak with staff who will connect them with a shelter or overflow bed. The City is asking people not to camp in public spaces that are not meant for that type of use.

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

Photo of Tent City by Neil Morton, PTBOCanada

The overflow bed service was temporarily shut down on Canada Day when the service provider Warming Room’s lease expired for the former location on Murray Street. On the last night that the service was at the Warming Room, there were 29 people using overflow beds.

Warming Executive Director Christian Harvey told CBC Ontario Morning on Thursday (July 18th) that the Warming Room is still trying to secure a new location after getting a few leads for possible spots.

The City of Peterborough says that shelter bed availability can change each day. Last week, there were as many as about 25 beds available in the shelter system. On July 17th, there were six beds available at Cameron House for women, three beds available at Youth Emergency Shelter for youth, and no beds available at the Brock Mission for men.

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My Father Is My Monarch Butterfly: "Dougie's Story", As Told By His Daughter To PTBOCanada

Doug Johnson—aka "Dougie"—has been a staple in downtown Peterborough for many years. He is a kind and generous homeless man who has endeared himself to so many with his smile, kindness and gentle nature.

Up until recently, not many people knew his story—as they don’t with most homeless people, all who have their own unique backstory. They only knew fragments of what had been cobbled together from those that know him.

Photo of Doug via Dana’s Facebook post

Photo of Doug via Dana’s Facebook post

But that all changed on May 1st, when his daughter, Dana—most people weren’t aware Dougie had kids—did a heartfelt and brave Facebook post (see below) after how his mental illness has, in many respects, robbed her of her father—an “incredibly unique human being,” she says.

”Schizophrenia and addiction took our true connection,” she writes in the Facebook post. “This is something I struggled understanding as a little girl, and even now as an adult. As much as I recognize this is the journey his spirit was meant to take, it has always been hard for me to admit to just anyone… It’s hard to love someone with an illness, it’s exhausting emotionally. When I’m near him I melt, I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m protective, I’m reactive, because there is so many emotions I’m making my way through it’s like my heart and head are in overdrive.”

Dana with her Dad Doug (photo for PTBOCanada courtesy Dana)

Dana with her Dad Doug (photo for PTBOCanada courtesy Dana)

You can read her entire Facebook post embedded below which received hundreds of shares on Facebook (after all, everyone knows Dougie and have been touched by him in some way) and then her story for PTBOCanada which traces more of her journey with her Dad, and the tremendous impact her social media post has had on so many.

MY FATHER DOUG: IN DANA’S OWN WORDS FOR PTBOCANADA READERS…

My recent post about my dad Doug Johnson got a lot of feedback on Facebook, and since then I’ve been asked to elaborate on who I am by PTBOCanada, and why this was something I decided to bite my lip, hold my breath and post.

Trust me, it was not easy.

I am Dana Johnson, born in Peterborough on June 25th, 1986. I currently live in Calgary, Alberta where I drive a truck for the City of Calgary and where I’m also an artist with Maskcara.

From the time I was 11, I sang across Ontario and a few times in Nashville. Jobs were sparse for me and most day-jobs don’t love when you take weekends off for music endeavours.

I chose to move to Alberta to make a life for myself here. A lot of my mother’s side of the family had moved west, and moving to Alberta brought me closer to my brother in Victoria. My brother is an EOD in the Canadian Navy and travels the world, doing very top secret Navy stuff! (Which is the coolest thing ever.)

Doug in happier times with his children (Dana at right)

Doug in happier times with his children (Dana at right)

I met my husband when I moved to Calgary, and he has two beautiful children. We got married in October of 2017, in Fish Creek Park. It was a small ceremony, in the woods with our mothers, the children and two friends. My brother was in between Victoria and Ontario and made a quick weekend stopover. It was always my dream to have him walk me “down the aisle” as he is one of my heroes in life.

When my dad, Doug, was 28, he fell ill with a cold from what I understand—and that together with working hard, enjoying his evenings at parties and recently having his first born caused something to snap in him. Still, he would lend a hand to anyone who asked.

The loss of his grandfather was likely the final straw, and something happened in his mind. Nobody really knew what it was; it was just speculated that he had a mental breakdown. However after he was monitored for a while, the doctors deemed the mental breakdown as a meltdown which was a result of no rest. Some would call it burning the candle at both ends. Somehow schizophrenia had paired with it, which explained why he was acting euphoric.

Doug in his younger years (photo courtesy of Dana for PTBOCanada)

Doug in his younger years (photo courtesy of Dana for PTBOCanada)

After that incident, he got better with the help of amazing doctors. They found a medication that worked for him. He was doing really well and that’s when my parents decided to have another baby. That baby was me.

However with schizophrenia, you have to take your medication. That didn’t always happen. My dad continued to work hard, play hard and things went down hill for a while.

My mom decided she needed to take care of herself and their children. Her father was worried for her safety, and had offered his support to leave after my dad was found in my mom’s parents house, trying to light a fire in the corner of the kitchen. My mom’s family loved my dad, he was respectful, kind and caring. He was exactly who he is today, without his mental illness.

Dana with her Dad Doug (photo for PTBOCanada courtesy Dana)

Dana with her Dad Doug (photo for PTBOCanada courtesy Dana)

Since then, I have watched my father go from having a beautiful family, and then through another divorce, to living on the streets. 

It’s never been easy, but every time I had the chance to spend time with him, I wholeheartedly opened up and loved on him—from Christmas dinners, weddings, funerals and running into him on the streets.

My father is my Monarch Butterfly. Why? Because growing up, spending time at his home, he always had them, dehydrated in coasters or sitting in his china cabinet. So anytime I see a butterfly, he is on my mind.

Photo via Dana’s Facebook post

Photo via Dana’s Facebook post

On my 21st birthday, I was at the beach in Cobourg near Peterborough where I lived at the time, and a flock of Monarchs swarmed me and then flew off. In my heart, I knew that was my dad wishing me a happy birthday.

That same day I went to Peterborough for a birthday dinner, and as I was jumping out of my boyfriend’s Jeep running into different restaurants to see if they had any birthday specials, I saw him.

It was the first time I ever saw my dad on the street. As I walked towards him, with open arms, I said, “Hi dad”. We hugged and awkwardly made our way through a conversation to which I explained it was my birthday. 

Looking down at his plastic container, with the contents of change and cigarettes, he raised his hand and offered me a Pixy Stix and said, “Here, have this. Happy birthday.” I declined, which was difficult. Instead I hugged him again and waved goodbye. As I got into my boyfriend’s Jeep, I was overcome by emotion and broke down into tears. I still to this day regret not inviting him to eat with me.

Since the authenticity post I made on Facebook, I’ve had so many people reach out. The one thing they all have in common is how much he is loved by his friends and the community in Peterborough. 

People have opened up to me and shared their personal journey as a daughter or son, mother or father expressing the feelings associated with learning how to deal emotionally with mental illness.

Photo via Dana’s Facebook post

Photo via Dana’s Facebook post

What I’ve learned from being vulnerable is we are not alone, we are all different, and we all desire to be accepted and accept ourselves fully in this journey we call life.

No one is perfect. We will fail, but how will we get up and dust ourselves off to make amends?

Taking care of our needs and mental stability is so important. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to not feel ashamed to ask for help, not to hide, or stuff all the feelings way down deep. Because when it blows up, it could be life changing.

At 32, I can honestly say, growing up, I was afraid to “catch” this mental illness, not ever truly knowing why my dad did.

Today I recognize how important it is to step back, take a deep breath and lay down my cards. Because we aren’t playing life, life plays for us, it’s how we overcome our obstacles. 

I am honoured to hear all the love Peterborough has for my father, the way I have that same love for him—not in spite of his illness but because he brought me into the world and he is a part of who I am.

This situation is very unique, as some people are faced with this illness at a very young age. My father had the good fortune to have a healthy adolescence. He was a social director for his high school, where he would scout bands to play at dances.

After high school was over, he had many jobs: He worked at a slaughterhouse; as a contractor building fences in new subdivisions; and at the GM truck plant. He worked for his dad his whole life helping at his farm, and he got married and started a family before he was diagnosed.

I appreciate the love and support everyone has been so kind to give to me. This is something I have worked through my entire life, and I don’t feel the need to hide it anymore. It will help more people if I’m honest and transparent then keeping it tucked away.

If you have questions or concerns about a loved one, or about yourself, please send me a DM on Facebook. I’m here for you, as you have been here for me.

—guest post by Dana Johnson

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Look At What A 9-Year-Old Did For An Old Man Holding "Hungry, Please Help" Sign

Look At What A 9-Year-Old Did For An Old Man Holding "Hungry, Please Help" Sign

Hayden, you rock!

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Christmas Wish List For The Homeless In Peterborough

The City of Peterborough Social Services Division has announced the 6th Annual Christmas Wish List for the Homeless.  

To help support someone in need this holiday season, visit the Wish List and see how you can help. The list is updated regularily to fill the needs of those that need a little extra holiday cheer this season.  

Items can be delivered to 178 Charlotte Street between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and must be dropped off (unwrapped) by Friday, December 7th. 

[Contributed by PtboCanada's Julie Morris]

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Does Peterborough Have Enough Shelter For The Homeless?

It's freezing cold out. And anti-poverty activists are concerned there is not adequate shelter in the Patch for those in need. And that someone could freeze to death.

[chextvDOTcom; The Peterborough Examiner]

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