During the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness and encampments have become more visible in Hamilton. The City’s attempts to dismantle encampments and enforce anti-camping bylaws have been subject to litigation by residents and advocates. This case study first describes some of the main encampments between March 2020 and May 2022. It then sets out the City’s bylaw framework and actions between March 2020 and May 2022 and finally examines the legal challenges to the City’s removal of encampments and the application of bylaws and trespass law. Legal challenges are likely to continue in Hamilton until the right to housing is realized and all levels of government shift away from temporary shelters and encampment evictions as solutions to an ongoing and deepening housing crisis. Stronger tenant protection, support for deeply affordable and purpose-built rental housing, and a human rights approach to housing are all necessary to address the roots of homelessness in Hamilton.
This document was produced as part of a cross-Canada knowledge-sharing research project that was funded by the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate in order to improve public understanding of the reality of those living in encampments. Click here to read the full series.