Officials remove homeless camp under Saskatoon bridge

CBC News, September 17,2015 - Number of homeless in Saskatoon has increased in 3 years

A makeshift camp of mattresses, blankets and pillows has been removed from underneath the Traffic Bridge in Saskatoon.

It was the largest ever encountered by members of the Saskatoon Fire Department who also found more than 100 discarded needles in the area. Officials estimate that more than 12 people had been living in the space for a considerable time.

The users had even rigged up a power source, using an extension cord, for lights and a radio.

While everything from the camp is gone, the reality of homelessness remains. On Wednesday morning, a CBC News reporter snapped a picture of five people sleeping on the floor of a bank's vestibule.

Paul Sanderson has been trying to find a permanent place to live ever since he was evicted from his home a month ago, but has discovered housing options are limited.

Paul Sanderson has known homelessness in Saskatoon. (CBC)

"The rent is so high and it's hard to find a place," Sanderson told CBC News Wednesday. "And everybody's got to chip in … share rent with me."

Shaun Dyck, from the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, says the number of homeless people has risen in Saskatoon. In 2012 a count found 379 homeless. The most recent count, from July, noted 450 homeless.

Dyck believes all three levels of government need to invest in more affordable housing for Saskatoon.

"Obviously we're not keeping up with the growth of this city and the incomes are not meeting the amount of rent that is necessary for safe, affordable housing in Saskatoon," he said. "We have working poor in Saskatoon that have full-time jobs, but can't find a place they can afford."

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