Essex woman living in a tent hopes to find housing before the holidays
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Erica Gagnon, 40, has been homeless, living in a tent since July.
“This is about my fifteenth tent. I’ve been all through Windsor, Harrow, Kingsville, Leamington,” says Gagnon.
Gagnon was living in a trailer until it was sold by the owner. She then briefly lived in a car.
“It’s devastating. It’s embarrassing. People look down on you,” says Gagnon. “They expect you to go back to the cracks where you came from. It destroys you, but you have to stay strong.”
“We have to do something, immediately. We cannot let Erica stay out here another night,” says homeless advocate Dave Mota.
After hearing about Gagnon’s situation, one that exemplifies a larger issue, Mota has been trying to help.
“When I actually looked into housing for her, there’s nothing available out here in Essex County as far as emergency shelters. There’s no affordable housing for Erica at all,” says Mota.
“I’m a county girl so to go to the city is difficult for me and I can’t cope with people that are there. It would be nice to have something in the county,” says Gagnon.
Gagnon receives money each month from Ontario Works, but says it’s not enough to survive.
“I have about 300 bucks from welfare for basic needs. Other than that, that’s about it. I depend on food banks and people’s contributions,” says Gagnon.
With homelessness on the rise in Windsor-Essex, Mota is calling for more affordable housing.
“It’s become increasingly worse with homelessness and it all has to do with affordable housing, geared-to-income housing, intervention, places for them to go to. Emergency shelters, there’s just not enough of it,” says Mota.
“I’m done camping,” says Gagnon. “No more extreme camping for me. I’m done. I need to be indoors.”
Especially as colder weather is upon us, Gagnon soon hopes for a place to call home.
“Housing before Christmas. I have family, I have kids and being in a tent, you can’t really have Christmas dinner in a tent,” she says. “So I’d like to be somewhere for the holidays.”