Canada lacks affordable housing, housing that costs no more than 30 per cent of a person’s monthly income. This harms not just individuals with lower incomes but the middle class as well. A lack of affordable housing also impacts the country’s ability to recover from recessions or financial hardship in general.
A Better Tent City (ABTC) was the unique invention of Nadine Green, who initially allowed the people without homes to stay with their tents inside of her business, a convenience store.
“They tried to evict me, took me to court and tried to charge me,” she said.
She shook her head. Another business across the road from hers had taken issue with Nadine’s kindness and care for her community.
Even the city seemed against the idea, and needed to be brought around to the complex nature of the issue. After Nadine lost her store, they moved to a property under the care of Ron Doyle, who passed away in March 2021, forcing another move to plot at 49 Ardelt Avenue Kitchener, on an industrial lot.
The tiny homes provide a warm place to sleep, can be secured with a lock, provides a person with enough stability and protection to simply exist. Green said this is not a long- term solution, but the first step to giving people dignity and community to help them address their personal issues and enable survival.
Daniel, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was one of the first residents Green helped move to ABTC when they first moved from the store.
“Nadine, the community here cares about you, gives you support,” Daniel said. “You’re safe—if someone has a meltdown or an issue, someone usually knows how help calm them down.”
Darren Chalmers, another resident, has shared his experience with a better tent city before, and said ABTC is better than the shelters and the streets. He acknowledged, though, that it was the bare minimum in terms of a solution.
“It helps you begin to work on your problems, your personal problems, you have time to think and understand. Try to be better,” Daniel said.
Other townships like Kingston and Hamilton replicated the vision for their own cities after seeing the community for themselves.
Green brought up the encampment on Victoria and Weber and the city’s impending legal action to evict the residents.
“Hire me. I can fix this,” she said.
Green lives with the residents and is helping them grow and maintain the community on a daily basis. She knows and loves the people who live there. Her ideas and tenacity enrich the lives of people in ABTC.