Encampment Response

The term ‘Encampment’ is used to reference an area where an individual or a group of people experiencing homelessness stay together, often in tents or other temporary structures.

Encampments have become more prevalent across Canada. As such, there is urgency for governments at all levels to ensure that their approach to supporting those that reside in encampments upholds their human rights and dignity. The City of Brantford believes communities thrive when everyone has a place to call home. The City of Brantford Encampment Network (COBEN) supports individuals who are experiencing homelessness to find a home where they feel comfortable, safe, and a part of their community. 

Below are some common questions that are asked regarding encampments:

Are there people in Brantford-Brant sleeping unsheltered?
During the Brantford-Brant Point-in-Time Count, hosted on April 28 2021, it was estimated that at least 38 individuals were unsheltered.
Why do people stay unsheltered or in an encampment?

There are a number of reasons why an individual may stay in an encampment. When speaking with individuals sleeping unsheltered we heard:

  • Crowded shelters
  • Fear of safety
  • Too many rules
  • May lose belongings
  • Don’t want to separate from pets
  • Don’t want to separate from partners

In tandem with the reasons listed above, there are compounding systemic factors that can lead to the experience of unsheltered homelessness such as historical trauma, oppression, and racism, and discrimination amongst those with diverse identities.

How is the City of Brantford helping individuals in encampments?

The City of Brantford is responsible for leading the response to encampments and strives to ensure that individuals residing in encampments are connected to the services and supports that they need.

City staff facilitate the City of Brantford Encampment Network, which includes municipal staff from the following departments: By-Law, Housing Stability, Corporate Security ,Parks & Facilities, and the Mayor’s Office. Additionally, The Housing Resource Centre, and Brantford Downtown Outreach Team are also members of this network who actively engage with, and provide crucial support.

This City maintains a coordinated response to supporting individuals experiencing homelessness and in encampments, where community partners are supported to deliver outreach support, provide emergency shelter, a hygiene station, housing case management, as well as referrals to many other needed services.  Outreach staff complete various routes daily to connect with individuals experiencing homelessness, or who may need assistance. Municipal staff work with community partners to support long-term housing planning for individuals experiencing homelessness, and monitor the number of individuals accessing and in need of services to ensure adequate planning for the future happens.

What happens to homeless encampments when a complaint is made?
  1. When an encampment is reported to the City, the City of Brantford Encampment Network is notified, so outreach staff can attempt to connect with, and offer services to individuals at the reported site. Outreach staff typically visit reported sites within 24 hours of the report.

  2. If the individuals are present during the outreach visit, they are engaged in discussion about services including shelter, long-term housing plans, and access to basic needs items.

  3. Alternative sleeping locations are explored with individuals who are residing in encampments, and if appropriate, referrals are made to shelter, where long-term housing plans can be made.

For some, it may take multiple visits and conversations about shelter options before they feel comfortable to accept.

The City of Brantford Encampment Network has developed a balanced approach for encampments situated on city property which is based on court decisions and offers humane interventions, such as:

  1. Importance of accurate messaging that is communicated;
  2. Efforts are made to help connect individuals to the resources;
  3. Evictions shall not take place unless there are appropriate shelter beds available.

If an encampment is located on private property, there are limitations to the level of engagement and enforcement that can be done. Outreach staff may be able to coordinate with the owner of the property to offer support and referrals to alterative accommodations.

How can I advise the City of Brantford Encampment Network of an encampment?
You can contact the Customer Service Department at 519-759-4150, where details about the exact location, and any other relevant information will be collected to ensure outreach can find the site and offer support.
How can I be a supportive community member to residents of Brantford-Brant experiencing homelessness?

One way to be supportive, is to be use thoughtful language when referring to individuals  experiencing homelessness:

Thoughtful Language Examples
AvoidInstead Try
Defining people by their circumstances (ie “homeless person”, “the homeless”, or "homeless people" Using person-first language (ie “people experiencing homelessness, person living without a home, individuals sleeping unsheltered”
Stigmatizing people. Don’t label people living without a home as “addicts”, “criminals”, or “vagrants”. Separating the issues. Homelessness, substance use, and crime are often separate and distinct issues and are not experienced by all individuals experiencing homelessness.
Focusing on vulnerabilities. Referring to people as “vulnerable” can be condescending and patronizing. Identify Strengths. Realize that individuals experiencing homelessness are often resourceful, and living without a home forces people to face immense challenges daily.

Remember: Individuals experiencing homelessness aren’t always visible – they may include your co-workers, neighbours, your cashier at the grocery store, your hairstylist, your taxi driver, your banker, or your childhood friend – but at the end of the day, we are all one community. There are countless reasons why individuals may be living without a home, and no matter the situation, kindness is always free to share.

If you’re looking to help support your community, and individuals experiencing homelessness please visit our Take Action page.


For even more information about homelessness, and the City of Brantford’s response see the following links:

@ City of Brantford – Mayor’s Housing Partnership Taskforce
@City of Brantford- Take Action
@ Homeless Hub

@ Built For Zero

 Looking for more information?

  • Do you or someone you know need access to emergency shelter? Please visit our Emergency Shelter page.
  • Are you wondering how we provide homelessness services in Brantford-Brant? Please visit our Homelessness System of Care page.
  • Are you looking for information about what community supports are available in our community related to housing, health, eviction prevention, food and clothing? Please visit our Community Supports page.
  • Are you wondering what can you do to help? Please visit our Take Action page for more information.